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

When it comes to income inequality, southern states appear to have it the worst.

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When it comes to income inequality, southern states appear to have it the worst.
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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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Flickr/Joseph

Gini coefficient: 41.74


49. Utah

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 42.61


48. Wyoming

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Bill45/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 42.79


47. New Hampshire

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Jo Ann Snover

Gini coefficient: 43.44


46. Hawaii

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Prayitno/flickr

Gini coefficient: 43.69


45. Nebraska

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Facebook/Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau

Gini coefficient: 44.20


44. Iowa

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SD Dirk/Flickr

Gini coefficient: 44.22


T-42. Vermont

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.35


T-42. Wisconsin

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Milwaukee.
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Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.35


41. South Dakota

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Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Wikimedia Commons

Gini coefficient: 44.38


40. Idaho

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.57


39. Delaware

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Nagel Photography/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.88


38. Minnesota

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photo.ua/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.90


37. Indiana

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KYPhua/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 44.94


36. Maryland

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 45.13


35. Maine

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 45.15


34. Nevada

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iStock / photoquest7

Gini coefficient: 45.22


33. Kansas

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City of Topeka Government/Facebook

Gini coefficient: 45.55


32. Washington

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 45.60


31. North Dakota

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North Dakota State University/Facebook

Gini coefficient: 45.86


30. Montana

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Lance Fisher/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 45.87


29. Colorado

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 45.90


28. Oregon

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pikappa51/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 46.12


27. West Virginia

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

Gini coefficient: 46.21


26. Missouri

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 46.32


25. Ohio

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 46.41


24. Michigan

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Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 46.48


23. Oklahoma

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Paul Brady Photography/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 46.52


22. Virginia

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Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 46.73


21. Pennsylvania

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davidwilson1949/Flickr

Gini coefficient: 46.80


20. Arizona

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Wikimedia Commons

Gini coefficient: 46.82


19. South Carolina

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Shutterstock.com

Gini coefficient: 46.90


18. Arkansas

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Jonathannsegal/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 47.08


17. Rhode Island

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 47.38


16. Kentucky

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Getty/Michael Noble Jr.

Gini coefficient: 47.41


15. North Carolina

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 47.48


14. New Mexico

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Turtix/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 47.54


13. Alabama

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 47.69


12. New Jersey

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

Gini coefficient: 47.82


11. Tennessee

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Reuters

Gini coefficient: 47.86


10. Illinois

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Shuttestock

Gini coefficient: 47.89


9. Mississippi

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 47.99


8. Texas

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John Moore/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 48.03


7. Georgia

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ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 48.16


6. Massachusetts

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Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 48.26


5. Florida

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Shutterstock

Gini coefficient: 48.52


4. California

Gini coefficient: 48.80


3. Louisiana

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 49.03


2. Connecticut

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 49.47


1. New York

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Getty Images

Gini coefficient: 51.02