Where do the richest rich people live?

Lost decade for the 1%

Study after study has discussed the growing and increasingly prominent income inequality in modern America, as the country's richest move further and further away from the economic plight of those beneath them.

But breaking down who is and isn't in the top 1 percent of earners is a little more complicated than it sounds, especially once geographic factors like cost of living and regional job opportunities are factored in.

As it turns out, someone could bring in a little less than $128,000 per year and still be considered a 1 percenter, depending on where he or she lives. In other parts of the country, you'd have to bring in several million dollars each year to enjoy the same status.

Cost information site How Much this week published a helpful infographic that shows what the average 1 percenter earns in census areas around the country, particularly in counties. The map itself is based on U.S. Census Bureau data pulled by the Economic Policy Institute and used in a report published last month. One of its findings: Americans don't necessarily have to be millionaires to be placed in their region's top earnings percentile.

"The areas with the highest average income of the top 1 percent tend to be located in certain regions, but there are many others spread throughout the country as well," the How Much analysis said, showing that the top earners in parts of Wyoming, North Dakota, Texas and Florida bring in significantly more than 1 percenters in many other parts of the U.S.

Where Are the Richest Rich People?

  1. Teton, Wyoming: $28,163,786 average earnings
  2. New York, New York: $8,143,415
  3. Fairfield, Connecticut: $6,061,230
  4. La Salle, Texas: $6,021,357
  5. Pitkin, Colorado: $5,289,153

It's not surprising that regions in resource-rich areas like Texas and the Dakotas are on the list (see the full top 10 here), though the ongoing slowdown in oil drilling and production could change these rankings demonstrably going forward if things don't turn around soon.

On the other end of the spectrum, eight of the bottom 10 spots in terms of average top percentile earnings are located in the geographic South – namely, in Georgia and Kentucky. The only two exceptions are Wade Hampton, Alaska (now known as the Kusilvac Census Area), and Shannon, South Dakota.

Where Are the Poorest Rich People?

  1. Quitman, Georgia: $127,425 average earnings
  2. Taliaferro, Georgia: $139,439
  3. Wade Hampton, Alaska: $149,639
  4. Robertson, Kentucky: $152,637
  5. Chattahoochee, Georgia: $159,749

The study also suggests areas filled with particularly rich 1 percenters are home to stark inequality – indicating that the wealth of the richest isn't exactly shared by their neighbors.

There are exceptions, of course. In McKenzie, North Dakota, the average income of the top 1 percent is a little more than $4.7 million, while the average income of the bottom 99 percent is still an impressive $141,110.

But overall, the top earners in the 10 richest areas listed above make 94 times what the other 99 percent earn in those respective regions. In the 10 places in which 1 percenters earn the least, the top percentile of earners makes only about seven times what the rest of the region brings in.

RELATED: Forbes' top 10 richest people in America

Forbes' top 10 richest people in America
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Forbes' top 10 richest people in America

5.  Charles Koch

Net worth: $41 billion, down $1 billion
Source: Diversified
Age: 79    

  • Net worth down 2% since 2014 Forbes 400 due to market pressure on commodities and industrial companies
  • Charles runs $15 billion (revenues) Koch Industries, the country’s second-largest private company with $115 billion in sales.
  • He’s been chairman since 1967, when the company was valued at $50 million; it is now worth an estimated $100 billion
  • Political heavyweight compares his crusade for smaller government and economic liberty to the campaign for civil rights, and hopes his network of several hundred wealthy conservatives will spend up to $300 million on candidates and another $600 million on efforts to reduce regulation and reform the criminal justice system

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

4. Jeff Bezos

Net worth: $47 billion, up $16.5 billion
Source: Amazon.com
Age: 51

  • Bezos is the biggest dollar-gainer on the list
  • Climbs into the top 10 richest on The Forbes 400 for the first time thanks to surge in Amazon.com shares
  • In September he announced that his aerospace company, Blue Origin, would spend over $200 million to build reusable rockets and launch them into orbit from a site at Cape Canaveral by the end of the decade.  

(Photo by Nicole Craine/WireImage)

3.  Larry Ellison   

Net worth: $47.5 billion, down $2.5 billion
Source: Oracle
Age: 71

  • Fortune down $2.5 billion in the past year as Oracle’s share price fell
  • His net worth is down 5% since 2014 Forbes 400        
  • Stepped down as CEO of Oracle in September 2014, stayed on as chairman.  
  •  In June he announced that Oracle would expand its cloud-computing business, putting it in direct competition with Amazon.com’s Web Services business.
  • Both of his children are Hollywood moguls. Daughter Megan has financed films like Zero Dark Thirty and American Hustle. Son David has produced franchises like The Terminator and Mission: Impossible.

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

2.  Warren Buffett  

Net worth: $62 billion, down $5 billion
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
Age: 85 

  • Fortune down $5 billion in the past year because share price of Berkshire Hathaway fell
  • His net worth is down 7.5% since 2014 Forbes 400
  • Berkshire Hathaway in August announced its biggest acquisition ever, agreeing to pay $37 billion for Precision Castparts, a maker of aerospace, power and industrial parts
  • In addition to Precision, Berkshire owns companies including Geico, Dairy Queen and Fruit of the  Loom
  • This year teamed up again with 3G Capital, a firm run by a trio of Brazilian billionaires, to merge Kraft Foods with Heinz. Buffett has joined forces last year to help finance 3G’s merger of Burger King and coffeehouse chain Tim Hortons
  • Lifetime philanthropic giving: $25.6 billion

(Photo by Eric Frances/Getty Images)

1.  Bill Gates

Net worth: $76 billion, down $5 billion
Source: Microsoft
Age: 59

  • World’s richest man for 22nd year in a row
  • Fortune down 6%
  • Gates own just under 3% of Microsoft, which accounts for 13% of his total fortune. His private investment firm, Cascade, makes up the rest, investing in stocks, bonds, private equity and real estate
  • Lifetime philanthropic giving: $31.5 billion

(Photo by J. Countess/WireImage)


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