Special Report

States With the Widest Gap Between Rich and Poor

7. Rhode Island
> Gini coefficient:
0.483
> Median household income: $54,891 (19th highest)
> Households earning $200,000+: 5.9% (11th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.3% (24th lowest)

Incomes among poorer Americans have increased slower than incomes of wealthier Americans from 2006 through last year. In Rhode Island, the average income of the poorest 20% of households actually decreased over that period, while incomes among the richest 20% of state household increased faster than the nation — one of only a handful of states where this was the case. Perhaps as a result, households earning more than $200,000 make up 5.9% of Rhode Island’s homes, while those earning less than $10,000 make up 8.4%, each the 11th highest such share in the country. Rhode Island is one of only two states where both of these measures exceeded the corresponding national shares.

6. Florida
> Gini coefficient:
0.483
> Median household income: $47,463 (12th lowest)
> Households earning $200,000+: 4.0% (22nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (16th highest)

Like the nation as a whole, Florida is divided in two. In addition to wealthy retirement homes and luxury hotels on pristine Miami beaches, Florida is home to some of the poorest areas in the nation.

Florida’s wealthiest 5% of households earn 24% of all income earned in the state, the highest income share held by a state’s top 5% after only New York and Connecticut. Since 2006, incomes among the richest 5% of households in Florida increased by 11.8% to $323,954, one of the slowest growths among top earners. Meanwhile, however, average income among the poorest 20% of households in the state decreased by 1.7% over that period to $11,022.

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5. Massachusetts
> Gini coefficient:
0.486
> Median household income: $69,160 (6th highest)
> Households earning $200,000+: 9.3% (3rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.6% (10th lowest)

Massachusetts is one of the most unequal states in terms of income, but overall, the state is also one of the wealthiest. A typical Massachusetts household earns $69,160 annually, and 9.3% of households earn more than $200,000, each among the highest such figures in the country. There is strong positive relationship between education and income, and high wages in Massachusetts are likely due to the state’s well-educated population. More than 41% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest percentage nationwide.

Since the recession, the average income among the poorest 20% of households increased by 8.5%, faster than the comparable national growth. However, among the state’s wealthiest 5% of households, incomes increased by more than 30%, the seventh largest growth in the country.

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