A stark prosperity gap is crippling the economy — and deepening social divisions

  • More than 52 million Americans live in deeply-disadvantaged, "distressed" neighborhoods, report finds.
  • Distressed areas saw declines in both jobs and business establishments despite economic recovery.
  • Wealthy neighborhoods have dominated the recovery, generating 52% of the country’s new jobs. 

There’s a new interactive tool online that helps Americans visualize just how deeply economically divided the nation has become — and it's not a pretty picture.

The country’s deep income and wealth inequalities, which match levels not seen since before the Great Depression, have been widely reported.

RELATED: What the richest 1 percent earns in every state

52 PHOTOS
What the Richest 1 Percent Earns in Every State
See Gallery
What the Richest 1 Percent Earns in Every State

51. West Virginia: $488,643 per year

State by state, the average earnings of the 1 percent vary greatly. In West Virginia, for example, 1-percenters earned less than $489,000 a year, on average — a lot of money, to be sure, but that’s a fifth of the $2.4 million earned in 2013, on average, by the top 1 percent in the top-earning state.

The study found relatively less inequality in rural places and bigger income gaps in cities and suburban counties. Study co-author Mark Price says that’s probably because there’s a smaller concentration of high-income occupations — like corporate CEOs, top managers and financial services jobs — in predominantly rural states like West Virginia than in, say, New York state.

Still, inequality is up in rural areas and cities. That’s because, Price says, “an increasing amount of income is flowing to the top 1 percent of families in every part of the country.”

For West Virginia, the study found:

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $244,879/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $34,407/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 12.4 percent

Photo credit: Getty

50. Mississippi: $565,813 per year

Mississippi, like other predominantly rural states, has a relatively smaller gap between rich and poor — even though the average Mississippi 1-percenter earns more than a half-million dollars a year.

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $264,952/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $33,383/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.4 percent

Photo credit: Getty

49. New Mexico: $593,739 per year

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $231,276/year.
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $37,995/year.
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 13.4 percent.

Photo credit: Getty

48. Maine: $612,494 per year 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $282,474/year.
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $41,165/year.
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 12.9 percent.

Photo credit: Getty

47. Kentucky: $619,585 per year

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $267,635/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $37,371/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

46. Alabama: $665,097 per year

The rural-urban differences in wealth distribution are clear in Alabama’s relatively smaller inequality gap. Those among the wealthiest 1 percent in Alabama make $665,097 a year compared with the $38,854 earned, on average, by everyone else in the state. Although the wealthy in the South take home a great deal of money each year, the highest incomes here are dwarfed by the average earnings of the 1 percent in states with bigger urban centers.

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $283,899/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $38,854/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.5 percent

Photo credit: Getty

45. South Carolina: $668,739 per year 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $288,042/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $36,950/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15.2 percent

Photo credit: Getty 

44. Hawaii: $690,073 per year 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $281,620/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $51,033/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 11.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

43. Iowa: $714,758 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $317,234/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $51,248/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 12.2 percent

Photo credit: Getty

42. Indiana: $717,688 per year 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $296,640/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $43,426/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

41. Montana: $730,864 per year 

The average Montanan in the bottom 99 percent makes $42,000 a year. But the average earnings among the state’s 1 percent are raised appreciably by the presence in Montana of Glacier National Park. Kalispell, the gateway to Glacier Park, ranks 43rd among Bloomberg’s richest small towns in America.

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $297,689/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $42,013/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.7 percent

Photo credit: Getty

40. Vermont: $735,697 per year 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $299,259/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $45,719/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 13.8 percent

Photo credit: Getty

39. Idaho: $738,278 per year 

Idaho has large rural swathes, and Boise, although it is booming and home to ever more tech and other companies, is — sorry, Boise — no New York City with NYC salaries. But Idaho’s higher earners aren’t all in the biggest city. They’re also in Hailey, central to the wealth and glitter of the Sun Valley-Ketchum resort area.

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $292,324/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $45,254/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.0 percent

Photo credit: Getty

38. North Carolina: $745,868 per year 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $327,549/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $42,162/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

37. Arkansas: $750101 per year 

  • Entry-level earnings for top 1 percent: $237,428/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $36,421/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 17 percent

Photo credit: Getty

36. Ohio: $752,582 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $317,124/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $42,391/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15 percent

Photo credit: Getty

35. Oregon: $754,431 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $312,839/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $40,719/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15.5 percent

Photo credit: Getty

34. Delaware: $768,109 per year

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $342,699/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $48,371/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 13.6 percent

Photo credit: Getty

33. Arizona: $784,469 per year

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $309,102/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $38,354/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

32. Tennessee: $820,373 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $308,834/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $40,156/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

31. Alaska: $833,117 per year 

The wealth gap in Alaska is lower than in most states because, although the earnings of the average 1-percenter approach $1 million a year, the bottom 99 percent make more than in many other states.

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $365,332/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $63,226/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 11.6 percent

Photo credit: Getty

30. Missouri: $833,823 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $305,471/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $41,641/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.6 percent

Photo credit: Getty

29. Michigan: $834,008 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $306,740/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $37,896/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 17.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

28. Georgia: $857,728 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $345,876/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $40,095/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 17.5 percent

Photo credit: Getty

27. Louisiana: $859,619 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $325,163/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $41,600/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 17 percent

Photo credit: Getty

26. Nebraska: $872,892 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $346,252/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $57,076/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 13.2 percent

Photo credit: Getty

25. Rhode Island: $884,609 per year

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $336,625/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $47,545/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15.6 percent

Photo credit: Getty

24. Wisconsin: $888,121 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $312,375/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $46,669/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

23. Pennsylvania: $926,051 per year

The earnings gap between the richest and everyone else starts widening in states like Pennsylvania, where the average income for the 99 percent isn’t that much different from elsewhere but the average earnings of the top 1 percent reach nearly $1 million per year.

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $360,343/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $45,781/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.7 percent

Photo credit: Getty

22. Oklahoma: $930,201 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $324,935/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $44,849/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 17.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

21. Utah: $940,662 per year 

Utah has Salt Lake City, which brings up average incomes. But, at least equally important to the wealth gap, it also has resort communities like Summit Park, home of the Park City Mountain Resort, which Bloomberg News ranks first among the 20 richest small towns in America, and Heber, a wealthy nearby tourist area.

Utah is a growing magnet for corporate jobs, too. Bloomberg says, “Utah has companies like Adobe and Goldman Sachs settling in and creating job opportunities in cities within commuting distance of its mountain towns.”

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $333,775/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $50,367/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15.7 percent

Photo credit: Getty

20. Kansas: $981,279 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $351,497/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $50,367/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.2 percent

Photo credit: Getty

19. Virginia: $987,607 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $406,412/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $55,743/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15 percent

Photo credit: Getty

18. New Hampshire: $1,011,141 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $359,844/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $56,475/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 15.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

17. Maryland: $1,024,110 per year

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $421,188/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $60,172/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 14.5 percent

Photo credit: Getty

16. South Dakota: $1,025,091 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $386,622/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $53,213/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

15. Minnesota: $1,035,928 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $411,022/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $52,689/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.3 percent

Photo credit: Getty

14. Washington: $1,100,186 per year 

Now we’re talking some real money. In booming high-tech Seattle, the average 1-percenter makes more than a million dollars a year. Inequality is higher, too, with the 1 percent taking home almost one-fifth of earnings in the state. The small town of Oak Harbor, Washington, ranks 18th in Bloomberg’s list of wealthiest small towns in America.

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $387,854/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $50,372/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 17.8 percent

Photo credit: Getty

13. Colorado: $1,101,214 per year 

Helping raise the average income for Colorado’s 1-percenters are the resort towns of Vail and Beaver Creek, located near Edwards, which Bloomberg ranks the second-richest small town in America, in addition to four other “richest” small towns: Breckenridge (No. 5), Glenwood Springs (No. 7), Steamboat Springs (No. 9) and Durango (No. 16).

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $410,716/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $54,809/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 16.6 percent

Photo credit: Getty

12. Illinois: $1,207,547 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $416,319/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $48,684/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 19.8 percent

Photo credit: Getty

11. Florida: $1,265,774 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $385,410/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $36,530/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 25.6 percent

Photo credit: Getty

10. North Dakota: $1,282, 551 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $481,492/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $61,178/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 17.2 percent

Much of North Dakota’s riches stem from natural resources, including its oil boom in the northwestern part of the state as well as coal, shale gas and wind energy industries.

Photo credit: Getty

9. Texas: $1,301, 618 per year  

Texas has long been a symbol of American wealth. Farming, ranching and, of course, oil traditionally were the backbones of the state’s economy. More recently the state’s wealth has grown from petroleum-related industries, biotech and medical research, aerospace and defense contracting, and an influx of corporate headquarters. The average earnings of the bottom 99 percent are small compared with the $1,301,618, on average, that 1-percenters take home each year, leading to a big wealth gap.

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $424,507/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $48,350/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 21.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

8. Nevada: $1,386,448 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $311,977/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $36,169/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 27.5 percent

Photo credit: Getty

7. California: $1,411,375 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $453,772/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $48,899/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 22.3 percent

Photo credit: Getty

6. New Jersey: $1,453,741 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $547,737/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $57,447/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 20.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

5. District of Columbia: $1,531,432 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $554,719/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $63,100/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 19.4 percent

Photo credit: Getty

4. Massachusetts: $1,692,079 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $539,055/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $56,115/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 23 percent

Photo credit: Getty

3. New York: $2,006,632 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $517,557/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $44,163/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 31 percent

The biggest gap between the richest 1 percent and everyone else is in New York, where someone in the top tier earns about 45 times more each year than the average New Yorker does.

Inequality is even greater in New York County, including Manhattan and the Financial District.

Photo credit: Getty

2. Wyoming: $2,118,167 per year 

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $368,468/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $52,196/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 28.7 percent

The biggest wealth gap may be in New York, but the fattest annual earnings among the 1 percent are in — Wyoming. The state may be known for its cowpokes and stunning scenery, but the natural splendors and the potential for privacy and isolation lure a great deal of money to the state.

Jackson, the third-richest small town in Bloomberg’s ranking, lies on the southern border of Yellowstone National Park, spilling from Wyoming into Idaho. Grand Teton National Park and other tourist attractions are nearby, and the area is home to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. But it is the extreme wealth of many of its citizens that gives Jackson the dubious distinction of being the most unequal city in the United States.

Photo credit: Getty

1. Connecticut: $2,402,339 per year 

The gaps between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent are biggest of all in New York and Connecticut. In Connecticut, the wealthiest 1 percent earns 42.6 times what the rest of the state makes, on average. In the United States, the top 1 percent’s average income is 30 times more than the average income of the bottom 99 percent.

After Jackson, Wyoming, the most unequal metro area in the United States is Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, an area known as “the Gold Coast” for its wealth, including health-fund fortunes.

  • Entry-level for top 1 percent: $659,979/year
  • Average earnings of bottom 99 percent: $56,445/year
  • Top 1 percent’s share of income in the state: 29.7 percent

Photo credit: Getty

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

But the Distressed Communities Index, published by a Washington-based non-profit called Economic Innovation Group (EIG), adds some startling new detail and localized specificity to the widening and persistent gap between the country’s rich and poor, the worst of any "advanced" economy.

The US economy has, on paper, been recovering from the Great Recession since the summer of 2009. Recently, growth has hovered around 2% per year, and the unemployment rate has fallen to just 4.4%.

Still, much of the population has not felt the gains of this rebound, which is among the longest in modern history but also the weakest

"It is fair to wonder whether a recovery that excludes tens of millions of Americans and thousands of communities deserves to be called a recovery at all," the EIG says in its Distressed Communities Index report

"The consequences extend far beyond the individual communities being left behind. The further we go down the path of geographically exclusive growth, the more we limit our nation’s economic potential as a whole — and the more fractured our society risks becoming in the process."

This finding is in line with a recent shift in thinking at major institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which now argues that too much inequality is actively harmful to the long-run growth potential of economies.

Here are some depressing findings from the EIG report, which finds more than 52 million Americans are living in distressed zip codes:

• Job growth in the average distressed zip code was negative from 2011 to 2015, trailing the average prosperous zip code by more than 30 percentage points.

• Distressed zip codes were the only group in which the number of both jobs and business establishments declined during the national recovery.

• Most distressed zip codes contain fewer jobs and places of business today than they did in 2000.

• Distressed zip codes contain 35% of the country’s "brownfield" sites marked by "the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant." 

• 58% of adults in distressed zip codes have no education beyond high school.

Meanwhile, on the right side of the tracks:

• 88% of prosperous zip codes experienced job growth from 2011 to 2015, and 85% saw rising numbers of business establishments.

• Prosperous zip codes have dominated the recovery, generating 52% of the country’s new jobs and 57% of its net new business establishments from 2011 to 2015.  

• Adults with any level of postsecondary education are more likely to live in a prosperous zip code than any other type of community.

• 45% of the country’s advanced degree holders live in prosperous zip codes, more than in the bottom three quintiles of zip codes combined

The richest one-fifth of US zip codes were the "unambiguous drivers" of the recovery, the report found;  88% of them saw job growth and 85% had rising numbers of business establishments from 2011 to 2015.

"Outside of the upper echelon, however, growth rapidly becomes less pervasive," EIG adds. "Only three out of every four comfortable zip codes saw job growth over the period, and the number of business establishments rose in only two out of every three zip codes in this second best-performing tier."

For the poorest Americans, "stagnation and decline were the rule, not the exception."

Just two of five distressed zip codes saw any job growth over the five years of recovery, and only about one in five saw the number of business establishments rise.

More than half (55%) of distressed zip codes experienced net declines in both jobs and business establishments over the 2011-2015 recovery period, compared to fewer than one quarter of mid-tier zip codes and a mere 3% of prosperous zip codes.

NOW WATCH: RAY DALIO: There's one asset every portfolio must have

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Inequality is getting so bad it's threatening the very foundation of economic growth

Read Full Story

Can't get enough real estate news?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from celebrity homes to renovation tricks delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

Find a home

Buy
Rent
Value
Powered by Zillow