State Patterns of Income & Income Inequality

The growth of income inequality has been widely reported. A recent New York Times story summarizes the wealth gap, a result of income inequality growth. The Pew Research Center report finds that in 2013, the wealth gap between upper-income and middle-income families was larger than at any point in the last 30 years for which we have data. Income inequality is a social issue and more.  As the income inequality grows, market patterns and opportunities change and differ ways in different areas.  Understanding the how, where and when of income inequality change is important for many reasons.  See the related Web section for more data access and more options for analyzing income and income inequality.

There are many ways to measure how income inequality is growing. This section uses data from the American Community Survey (ACS). Appealing reasons for using the ACS data include the availability of the same subject matter reviewed here for states is also available down to the census tract and block groupgeographic levels. The ACS data also provide many related subject matter items, such as educational attainment, that are relevant to extended analyses.

State Income & Income Inequality — Interactive Table
Use the interactive table to view, rank, and compare national and state level median household income based on the 2012 ACS and 2013 ACS. Interactively examine how the Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, varies by state. These data are from the ACS 1-year estimates and compare respondent data for calendar year 2012 data with calendar year 2013. Estimates from the 2013 ACS compared to the 2012 ACS estimates show a significant increase in median household income at the national level and for many states.

The following graphic view of the interactive table shows states ranked on the 2013 Gini Index (more about the Index below). Nine states have a Gini Index higher than the U.S. overall.

Visual Analysis of State Patterns of Income Inequality
The following graphic shows state patterns of income inequality based on the 2013 Gini Index. See more about the Gini Index below and examine patterns using the interactive table below.

View created with CV XE GIS. Click graphic for larger view.
Use the MHI/Gini Index GIS project for further analysis and alternative map views; see details in Web section.

Median Household Income
An analysis by the Census Bureau indicates that real median household income in the U.S experienced a statistically significant increase between the 2012 ACS and the 2013 ACS. The 2012 U.S. median household income was $51,915, and the 2013 U.S. median household income was $52,250. Use the interactive table to examine patterns median household income among states.

Income Inequality
The Gini Index is a summary measure of income inequality. The Gini Index varies from 0 to 1, with a value of 0 indicating perfect equality, where there is a proportional distribution of income across all households. A value of 1 indicates perfect inequality, where one household has all the income and all others have no income.

The Gini Index for the U.S. in the 2013 ACS (0.481) was significantly higher than in the 2012 ACS (0.476). This increase suggests that income inequality increased nationally. The Gini Index for the 2013 ACS increased in 15 states. Examine patterns of income inequality using the interactive table.

In the near future, a new Web section and blog post will examine patterns of income and income inequality change on a national scope at the block group/census tract geographic levels.

About the Author
— Warren Glimpse is former senior Census Bureau statistician responsible for innovative data access and use operations. He is also the former associate director of the U.S. Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards for data access and use. He has more many years of experience in the private sector developing data resources and tools for integration and analysis of geographic, demographic, economic and business data.

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