When considering such economic indicators as unemployment and GDP growth, the United States appears to be in a period of near unprecedented prosperity. Yet these figures do not tell the whole story because much of the wealth that has been generated has ended up in the hands of the ultra wealthy members of U.S. society — the one-percenters — those who are wealthier than 99% of Americans.
Tax units — which are either individuals or couples filing jointly — earning $421,347 or more rank among the top 1% of incomes in the United States. But as incomes vary from state to state, so do the thresholds for a one-percenter designation.
For instance, a tax unit earning $260,000 in West Virginia would be in the very upper echelon of that state’s income bracket. Yet a tax unit would need twice the income to rank among the top 1% of earners in wealthier states like California or New York. These states tend to have clusters of wealthy residents who live in some of the richest cities in America.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed Internal Revenue Service’s Statistics of Income program data to identify the minimum income threshold of the top 1% of earners in each state.
The states with much higher thresholds for the top 1% of earners tend to either have major economic hubs or multiple resort towns. 24/7 Wall St. spoke with Mark Price, a labor economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank. Price explained how jobs in the higher-paying finance and insurance sectors, for example, tend to cluster in large metropolitan areas with large labor pools.”Those places that the high-income earners are more likely to work at are concentrated in a place like New York,” Price said. The same is true of high-paying tech industry jobs.
The average income among the one-percenters also varies. In states like Wyoming, for example, the average top 1% income is $1.6 million per year, compared to $1.3 million nationwide. The reason could be the numerous resort towns in the state, like Jackson, where the rich may choose to reside. “If you were worth a few billion, where would you live? Jackson doesn’t sound like a bad place,” Price said.
The EPI found that from 2009 to 2015, the average income of the top 1% grew by 33.9%, more than triple the 10.3% income growth among the remaining 99%. This heightened level of income inequality has made the United States one of the countries with the widest gaps between the rich and poor.