> Gini Coefficient: 0.471
> Median Income: $39,980 (3rd Lowest)
> Households Earning $200,000+: 2.13% (9th Lowest)
> Population Living Below Poverty Line: 17.50% (6th Highest)
Alabama has the 5th largest percentage of households making less than $30,000 a year, and the tenth-highest percentage of households making above $100,000 a year. It also has the sixth-highest percentage of people living below the poverty line: 17.5%. From 2008 to 2009, the number of households making $200,000 or more a year fell from 2.3% to 2.1%. The number of households receiving food stamps, however, increased 26% from 2008 to 2009. “We’re seeing record numbers on food stamps and insurance programs, and there really is a direct correlation,” said Jim Carnes, spokesman for the anti-poverty advocacy group Alabama Arise, in The Birmingham News. “As the poverty rate increases, government services have a greater demand.”
> Gini Coefficient: 0.473
> Median Income: $45,433 (14th Lowest)
> Households Earning $200,000+: 2.54% (24th Lowest)
> Population Living Below Poverty Line: 17.30% (7th Highest)
Louisiana has the seventh-largest percentage of residents both making less than $30,000 a year and living below the poverty line. The bottom 25% of earners make only 4% of the state’s income. In comparison, the top 25% of earners enjoy 63% of the income, according to the Louisiana state government. The top 5% make 29% of the income. The good news is that personal income rose 3.1% in Louisiana in 2010, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. This is slightly more than the national average of 3%, and raises Louisiana earnings above 2008 pre-recession levels.
> Gini Coefficient: 0.474
> Median Income: $47,475 (22nd Lowest)
> Households Earning $200,000+: 3.83% (16th Highest)
> Population Living Below Poverty Line: 17.20% (8th Highest)
Texas has the largest percentage of its population falling either below the poverty line or making more than $200,000 a year, relative to the other states. Just over 21% of the state’s population falls into one of these two camps, although most fall into the former group. According to an article from the St. Petersburg Times’ PolitiFact.com, Texas had a GINI index of 0.37 in 1970, which increased to 0.42 in 1990, and is now 0.474, implying increasing long-term income inequality.
> Gini Coefficient: 0.480
> Median Income: $63,851 (Highest)
> Households Earning $200,000+: 7.87% (Highest)
> Population Living Below Poverty Line: 9.40% (4th Lowest)
Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the country, with the greatest percentage of households earning $200,000 or more a year (7.87%). The disparity between the poor and wealthy is getting worse. According to a 2008 study from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, income in Connecticut increased by $52,439, or 45%, to $169,378 for the top fifth of Connecticut households, while the bottom fifth’s income decreased $4,437, or 17%, to $21,133, from 1989 to 2006. The state has made efforts to begin correcting this issue by increasing the top income tax rate from 4.5% to 6.5%.
1. New York
> Gini Coefficient: 0.502
> Median Income: $50,216 (22nd Highest)
> Households Earning $200,000+: 6.15% (5th Highest)
> Population Living Below Poverty Line: 14.20% (25th Highest)
New York is a relatively wealthy state. It has the fifth-largest percentage of households earning $200,000 or more a year and has the 25th fewest people living below the poverty line. Regardless, the state has the most severe income inequality among all the states. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, the top 1% of earners in New York State make about 35% of the state’s total income. This is up from 17% in 1990. The bottom 50% of earners, in comparison, make just 9.1% of total income, down from 13.9% in 1990. Inequality is even worse in New York City. According to the FPI report, “if New York City were a nation, it would rank 15th worst among 134 countries with respect to income concentration, between Chile and Honduras. Wall Street, with its stratospheric profits and bonuses, sits within 15 miles of the Bronx,” one of the nation’s poorest counties.
Douglas A. McIntyre & Charles B. Stockdale