A recent paper
published by the D.C. based Economic Policy Institute “The New Gilded Age: Income Inequality
in the U.S. by State, Metropolitan Area, and County highlights growing income inequality
throughout the United States, detailing the incomes of the top 1 percent and
the bottom 99 percent for each state, county, and Metropolitan area in the United States.
for Rhode Island include:
top 1 percent earned, on average, 18.2 times more than the bottom 99 percent in
Rhode Island. In other New England states, the top 1 percent to bottom 99
percent ratios ranged from 15.4 in Maine to 37.2 in Connecticut.
average annual income of the top 1 percent in Rhode Island was $928,204. To be
in the top 1 percent in Rhode Island, one would have to earn $346,657 or more.
most unequal county in Rhode Island was Bristol County, with a top 1 percent to
bottom 99 percent ratio of 30.2.
Among the most striking data highlighted in the report is the
shift in the share of total income growth by the top 1 percent of families.
Between 1945 and 1973, Rhode Island’s top 1 percent accounted for 0.6 percent
of all income growth, the lowest share in New England, and third lowest in the
country. In contrast, between 1973 and 2015, Rhode Island’s top 1% accounted
for 40.1 percent of all income growth.
Rising inequality affects virtually
every part of the country, not just large urban areas or financial centers. We
can do many things to reduce income inequality in the Ocean State by ensuring
access to post-secondary education, increasing the minimum wage, and putting
policies in place that allow workers to share more fairly in the wealth they
are generating. We need to return bargaining power to Rhode Island workers, and
boost public investments in child care, education, health care, and housing.