Economic Growth

This map shows just how unequal US states are

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Using data from the Economic Policy Institute, this map highlights the extent of US inequality. Image: REUTERS/Gary Hershorn/Files

Elena Holodny
Writer, Business Insider
Andy Kiersz
Quant Reporter, Business Insider
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United States

Rising inequality is one of the major problems developed economies face today — and the US is no exception.

The top 1% of American earners captured 20.1% of all the income in the US in 2013, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.

And from 2009 to 2013, the top 1% took home 85.1% of total income growth.

Moreover, the average American one-percenter's income of over $1.1 million is 25.3 times as much as the average income of everyone else — $45,567.

But a particularly striking part of the EPI's report is their exploration of inequality at not just the national level, but also at the state and metropolitan level.

"Rising inequality is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets," Mark Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Estelle Sommeiller, a socio-economist at the Institute for Research in Economic and Social Sciences in Paris, France, wrote in the report.

“It’s a persistent problem throughout the country — in big cities and small towns, in all 50 states. In the face of this national problem, we need national policy solutions to jumpstart wage growth for the vast majority,” Price added in an emailed version of the report.

The report found that income inequality has increased in every US state since the 1970s — and that it has risen further in numerous states in the post-Great Recession world. The top 1% of income earners captured the majority of income growth from 2009 to 2013 in 24 states.

Plus, the top 1% captured all income growth in 15 of those 24 states over the same time frame: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

Moreover, nine states, 54 metropolitan areas, and 165 counties have inequality gaps wider than the national gap of 25.3 times. The most unequal states were New York, Connecticut, and Wyoming, where the top 1% earned average incomes more than 40 times those of the bottom 99%.

Meanwhile, the most unequal metro area was Jackson, WY-ID — where the top 1% makes 213.o times more than the bottom 99%. And the most unequal county was Teton County, Wyoming, which is part of the Jackson, WY-ID, metro area, where the top 1% makes 233.0 times more than the bottom 99%. (Although we should note that both of these areas have small populations, which are more likely to yield wacky numbers.)

Using data from the report, we put together a map showing how many times more the average top one-percenter makes compared to the average bottom 99-percenter in every US state. Check it out below:

Income of the top 1% and bottom 99% in the US
Image: Business Insider

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