Where do the richest rich people live?
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?
- Teton, Wyoming: $28,163,786 average earnings
- New York, New York: $8,143,415
- Fairfield, Connecticut: $6,061,230
- La Salle, Texas: $6,021,357
- 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?
- Quitman, Georgia: $127,425 average earnings
- Taliaferro, Georgia: $139,439
- Wade Hampton, Alaska: $149,639
- Robertson, Kentucky: $152,637
- 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.
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