How Much More Does the Top 1% Make Compared to the Rest of Us

23 June 2016

One of the most discussed issues in American politics is the distribution of wealth and income across the country. For some time now, many Americans and political commentators have noted the disparity between the wealthiest 1% of Americans compared to the rest of Americans. Some claim that the income earned by the wealthiest far outpaces the income of all others, leading to unfair income inequality. But to what extent are these claims true? We’ve visualized the income difference between the top 1% and the rest of us by county in the map below, using data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

The map above shows the severity of income inequality in each county highlighted in the darker shaded areas. In the United States, a county is subdivision of a state with some level of government authority. These subdivisions sometimes only contain one large city or metro area, but usually span multiple municipalities. The data  measures the average income of the top 1% divided by the average income of the rest of us. 

Counties with the Most Income Inequality

  • Teton, WY: Top 1% makes 233 times more than the rest of us

  • La Salle, TX: Top 1% makes 125.6 times more than the rest of us

  • Shackelford, TX: Top 1% makes 117.1 times more than the rest of us

  • New York, NY (combined five borough-counties in one city): Top 1% makes 115.6 times more than the rest of us

  • Custer, CO: Top 1% makes 86.6 times more than the rest of us

  • Fairfield, CT: Top 1% makes 73.7 times more than the rest of us

  • Franklin, FL: Top 1% makes 73.4 times more than the rest of us

  • Collier, FL: Top 1% makes 73.2 times more than the rest of us

  • Pitkin, CO: Top 1% makes 68.8 times more than the rest of us

  • San Juan, WA: Top 1% makes 68.8 times more than the rest of us

Counties with the Least Income Inequality

  • Wade Hampton, AK: Top 1% makes 5.1 times more than the rest of us

  • Manassas Park City, VA: Top 1% makes 5.1 times more than the rest of us

  • Shannon, SD: Top 1% makes 5.3 times more than the rest of us

  • Aleutians West, AK: Top 1% makes 5.4 times more than the rest of us

  • Chattahoochee, GA: Top 1% makes 5.7 times more than the rest of us

  • Nance, NE: Top 1% makes 5.8 times more than the rest of us

  • Robertson, KY: Top 1% makes 5.9 times more than the rest of us

  • King George, VA: Top 1% makes 5.9 times more than the rest of us

  • North Slope, AK: Top 1% makes 5.9 times more than the rest of us

  • Southeast Fairbanks, AK: Top 1% makes 5.9 times more than the rest of us

Across all counties, the top 1% makes 25.3 times more than the rest of us, with the top 1% posting averaging incomes of $1,153,293 and the rest of us posting average incomes of $45,567. In Teton, Wyoming the wealthiest 1% make an average income of $28,163,786 while the bottom 99% make an average income of $120,884. The top 1% make 233 times as much as the rest of us in this county, giving it the highest income inequality ratio of any county by far. Counties in Texas, Colorado and Florida make the list twice, with counties Texas appearing on on the top 100 list often. Contrary to popular belief, counties with large cities do not have the highest income inequality in the country. Although counties with larger cities can have high income inequality, the top 10 list in dominated by counties with small populations.

The counties with the least income inequality between the top 1% and bottom 99% are either in the Alaska, the South or in states with a small population. For those of you living in Alaska, you may be happy to hear that your state has four counties with the least income inequality. Wade Hampton, Alaska – which was renamed to Kusilvak Census Area in 2015 – has the lowest income inequality ratio at 5.1. However, this county is also one of the poorest and least employed counties in the country. An interesting pattern emerges in counties with low income inequality. Of the counties with the least inequality, the average income of the top 1% is far below the national average, while the average income of the bottom 99% is usually not below the national average.

Although counties influenced by cities like New York and San Francisco do boast high income inequality ratios, smaller counties tend to have higher and lower income inequality across the nation. The average income of the bottom 99% in counties with high and low inequality generally floats around the national average. At the same time, the top 1% in counties with the highest income inequality have average incomes well above the national average. Conversely, the top 1% in counties with the lowest income inequality have average incomes below the national average.  

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Sources: Table 1


 by Raul    

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