Special Report

States With the Widest Gap Between Rich and Poor

4. California
> Gini coefficient: 0.4903
> Median household income: $60,190 (10th highest)
> Households earning $200,000+: 7.7% (6th highest)
> Population living below poverty line: 16.8% (16th highest)

California had one of the highest median household incomes in the nation, at over $60,000 last year. Further, 7.7% of all households had incomes of more than $200,000, higher than in all but five other states. However, a large subset of California residents are quite poor. California’s poverty rate in 2013 was 16.8%, above the U.S. rate of 15.8%. Additionally, using the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure — which takes spending on basic needs and non-cash government benefits into account — California had the nation’s highest poverty rate from 2011 through 2013.

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3. Louisiana
> Gini coefficient: 0.4914
> Median household income: $44,164 (8th lowest)
> Households earning $200,000+: 3.6% (25th highest)
> Population living below poverty line: 19.8% (3rd highest)

Last year 10.7% of households in Louisiana had incomes of less than $10,000, the second highest percentage in the nation, behind only Mississippi. Further, close to 20% of the population lived below the poverty line, the third worst rate in America. Overall, Louisiana households are among the poorest in the nation, with a median income of just over $44,000 in 2013. A greater share of income goes to the top 20% of all households in Louisiana than in all but a few other states.

2. Connecticut
> Gini coefficient: 0.4994
> Median household income: $67,098 (5th highest)
> Households earning $200,000+: 9.3% (2nd highest)
> Population living below poverty line: 10.7% (4th lowest)

Connecticut is generally quite wealthy, with a median household income of more than $67,000 last year, well above the U.S. median of $52,250. Further, 9.3% of households reported incomes of $200,000 or more, behind only New Jersey. However, the top 5% of households in Connecticut accounted for more than 25.4% of all income in the state last year, the highest rate in the U.S. And while the state’s poverty rate is among the nation’s lowest, at 10.7%, it has risen by five percentage points since 2007. According to the Associated Press, income inequality has made tax revenue in the state volatile, as capital gains and realized profits from stock sales by ultra high net worth individuals fluctuate from year to year.

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1. New York
> Gini coefficient: 0.5098
> Median household income: $57,369 (16th highest)
> Households earning $200,000+: 7.3% (7th highest)
> Population living below poverty line: 16.0% (20th highest)

New York ranked as the worst state for income inequality in 2013. New York alone had the distinction of having a Gini coefficient greater than 0.5. The bottom 20% of households accounted for just 2.7% of all income in 2013, the least in the nation. Conversely, the top 20% of households accounted for 53.9% of all income, the most in the nation. Further, New York was one of only two states, along with Connecticut, where more than 25% of all income was earned by just the top 5% of households. In a recent speech in the United Kingdom, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said of inequality: “If it isn’t addressed, this crisis becomes the defining characteristic of our society.”

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