Mark Thoma has shared some maps put together by a graduate student at the University of Oregon, where he teaches, which show how inequality has changed in each state since 1977. In this map, red states are those where the top 1 percent of earners are taking home a relatively normal share of income, whereas green ones are those where the 1 percent gobble up a huge portion of it. Watch the states turn from deep red to dark green over the past 35 years:
This is just one indicator of growing inequality. Another, the Gini Coefficient, is used to measure the level of inequality between the rich and the poor. In this map, red states are those with low levels of income inequality, while green ones are high. You can see income inequality engulf the country:
In fact, income inequality has risen in nearly every state over the past three years. During that time, the rich saw their incomes grow, but everyone else actually saw them decline. The top 10 percent of earners now take home half the country’s income, the largest share ever recorded. The trend started in the 1970s, as the richest 20 percent saw incomes grow by $2,550 by the 2000s but the bottom 20 percent saw just $1,330.
Growing income inequality has been fueled by misguided policy. Wall Street deregulation brought big profits, boosting the incomes of the 1 percent who clustered in finance. Changes in the tax code favored capital gains income, or money made through investment instead of through a salary, which boosted the incomes of the rich. And while social spending has helped to keep income inequality lower, the U.S. is set to cut $1.5 trillion in spending over the next decade.