Income inequality is growing across the US -- here's how bad it is in every state

Paramount PicturesWhen it comes to income inequality, southern states appear to have it the worst.
  • 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


Gini coefficient: 41.74

49. Utah


Gini coefficient: 42.61

48. Wyoming

Gini coefficient: 42.79

47. New Hampshire

Jo Ann Snover

Gini coefficient: 43.44

46. Hawaii

Gini coefficient: 43.69

45. Nebraska

Gini coefficient: 44.20

44. Iowa

Gini coefficient: 44.22

T-42. Vermont

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.35

T-42. Wisconsin

Henryk Sadura/ShutterstockMilwaukee.

Gini coefficient: 44.35

41. South Dakota

Wikimedia CommonsSioux Falls, South Dakota

Gini coefficient: 44.38

40. Idaho


Gini coefficient: 44.57

39. Delaware

Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.88

38. Minnesota

Gini coefficient: 44.90

37. Indiana


Gini coefficient: 44.94

36. Maryland


Gini coefficient: 45.13

35. Maine


Gini coefficient: 45.15

34. Nevada

Gini coefficient: 45.22

33. Kansas

Gini coefficient: 45.55

32. Washington


Gini coefficient: 45.60

31. North Dakota

Gini coefficient: 45.86

30. Montana

Gini coefficient: 45.87

29. Colorado


Gini coefficient: 45.90

28. Oregon

Gini coefficient: 46.12

27. West Virginia

Shutterstock/Jon BilousHarper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

Gini coefficient: 46.21

26. Missouri


Gini coefficient: 46.32

25. Ohio


Gini coefficient: 46.41

24. Michigan

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 46.48

23. Oklahoma

Gini coefficient: 46.52

22. Virginia

Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 46.73

21. Pennsylvania

Gini coefficient: 46.80

20. Arizona

Wikimedia Commons

Gini coefficient: 46.82

19. South Carolina

Gini coefficient: 46.90

18. Arkansas


Gini coefficient: 47.08

17. Rhode Island

Gini coefficient: 47.38

16. Kentucky

Getty/Michael Noble Jr.

Gini coefficient: 47.41

15. North Carolina


Gini coefficient: 47.48

14. New Mexico


Gini coefficient: 47.54

13. Alabama


Gini coefficient: 47.69

12. New Jersey

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

Gini coefficient: 47.82

11. Tennessee

Gini coefficient: 47.86

10. Illinois


Gini coefficient: 47.89

9. Mississippi

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 47.99

8. Texas

John Moore/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 48.03

7. Georgia

Gini coefficient: 48.16

6. Massachusetts

Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 48.26

5. Florida


Gini coefficient: 48.52

4. California

Gini coefficient: 48.80

3. Louisiana

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 49.03

2. Connecticut

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 49.47

1. New York

Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 51.02

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