Income inequality is growing across the US — here’s how bad it is in every state

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When it comes to income inequality, southern states appear to have it the worst. Paramount Pictures
  • Income inequality measures the gap between the richest people and the rest of the population.
  • In the US, southern states and high-population states tend to have the worst levels of income inequality.
  • See where your state ranks compared to the rest below.

The gap between rich Americans and poor Americans has been a cause for concern in the United States for decades.

But although that gap has gotten significantly worse since the 1970s, income inequality is not the same across each state.

Careers data site Zippia used data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to rank all 50 states by income inequality.

The states are ranked by their Gini coefficient, a commonly used metric that quantifies income inequality on a scale from one to 100. The lower the score, the more equal the income distribution – a score of 100 would mean that one person controls all the wealth in an economy.

As a country, the US fares pretty poorly when it comes to income inequality: according to the CIA Factbook, the US has the 40th highest level of inequality out of 150 countries – around the same level as Jamaica, Peru, and Cameroon.

Within the US, there are some clear trends: the states with the least inequality tended to be western states and states with low populations, while the most inequality occurred in high-population states and southern states.

The results line up with previous research that showed that people in the South have much lower odds of moving from the lowest income bracket to the highest, and that people in the West have the best chances of doing the same.

Analysis from political geographer Richard Morrill showed that areas like the South, where income inequality was more pronounced, also have high minority populations. Meanwhile, heavily homogenous areas with high Germanic and Scandinavian populations – like the West – tended to have the most income equality, he found.

Read on to see how your state stacks up against the rest:


50. Alaska

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Gini coefficient: 41.74


49. Utah

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Gini coefficient: 42.61


48. Wyoming

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Gini coefficient: 42.79


47. New Hampshire

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Gini coefficient: 43.44


46. Hawaii

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Gini coefficient: 43.69


45. Nebraska

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Gini coefficient: 44.20


44. Iowa

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Gini coefficient: 44.22


T-42. Vermont

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Gini coefficient: 44.35


T-42. Wisconsin

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Milwaukee. Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.35


41. South Dakota

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Sioux Falls, South Dakota Wikimedia Commons

Gini coefficient: 44.38


40. Idaho

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Gini coefficient: 44.57


39. Delaware

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Gini coefficient: 44.88


38. Minnesota

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Gini coefficient: 44.90


37. Indiana

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Gini coefficient: 44.94


36. Maryland

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Gini coefficient: 45.13


35. Maine

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Gini coefficient: 45.15


34. Nevada

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Gini coefficient: 45.22


33. Kansas

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Gini coefficient: 45.55


32. Washington

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Gini coefficient: 45.60


31. North Dakota

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Gini coefficient: 45.86


30. Montana

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Gini coefficient: 45.87


29. Colorado

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Gini coefficient: 45.90


28. Oregon

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Gini coefficient: 46.12


27. West Virginia

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Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Shutterstock/Jon Bilous

Gini coefficient: 46.21


26. Missouri

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Gini coefficient: 46.32


25. Ohio

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Gini coefficient: 46.41


24. Michigan

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Gini coefficient: 46.48


23. Oklahoma

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Gini coefficient: 46.52


22. Virginia

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Gini coefficient: 46.73


21. Pennsylvania

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Gini coefficient: 46.80


20. Arizona

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Gini coefficient: 46.82


19. South Carolina

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Gini coefficient: 46.90


18. Arkansas

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Gini coefficient: 47.08


17. Rhode Island

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Gini coefficient: 47.38


16. Kentucky

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Gini coefficient: 47.41


15. North Carolina

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Gini coefficient: 47.48


14. New Mexico

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Gini coefficient: 47.54


13. Alabama

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Gini coefficient: 47.69


12. New Jersey

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A view of New Jersey from the Hudson River. Roman Babakin/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 47.82


11. Tennessee

Gini coefficient: 47.86


10. Illinois

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Gini coefficient: 47.89


9. Mississippi

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Gini coefficient: 47.99


8. Texas

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Gini coefficient: 48.03


7. Georgia

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Gini coefficient: 48.16


6. Massachusetts

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Gini coefficient: 48.26


5. Florida

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Gini coefficient: 48.52


4. California

Gini coefficient: 48.80


3. Louisiana

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Gini coefficient: 49.03


2. Connecticut

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Gini coefficient: 49.47


1. New York

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Gini coefficient: 51.02