The trend of income inequality has accelerated across the U.S. since the 1970s, including in Washington state. But data show Thurston County’s gap between the top and bottom wage earners is narrower than most.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute delves into what happened between the 1 percent income group and the bottom 99 percent in 2015 compared to previous years. The report relies on tax data from the Internal Revenue Service.
The study provides plenty of data on what is happening with income inequality on a local level. Here are some of the basics:
▪ The average household income in Thurston County for the top 1 percent was $597,887 in 2015, while the average household income for the bottom 99 percent was $50,551. The top 1 percent on average made 11.8 times the bottom 99 percent in Thurston County. That ranked Thurston 1,953th in terms of worst disparity, out of 3,061 counties nationwide.
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▪ Want to be a 1 percenter in Thurston? The minimum household income needed is $314,742, while the state threshold is $451,395.
▪ While the 1 percent is making 11.8 times the bottom 99 percent in Thurston, it’s well below the state average of 24.2 percent and the national average of 26.3 percent.
▪ The top 1 percent have 10.7 percent of the total income share in Thurston County, while the bottom 99 percent have 89.3 percent.
Across Washington state, San Juan County was considered the most unequal county, as the top 1 percent made 39.6 times more than the bottom 99 percent.
In the Seattle metro area, the top 1 percent made 24.7 times more than the bottom 99 percent. The average income for the top 1 percent in Seattle was $1,710,360, while the average income for the bottom 99 percent was $69,383.
The report indicates that income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s. While income among the bottom 99 percent has improved recently, the gap between the 1 percent and 99 percent also grew.
Washington ranked 10th highest in income disparity among the 50 states. New York topped the list, while Alaska had the lowest level of disparity.
Of all the income taken in by the nation’s 1 percenters, half went to families in five states: California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois. According to the report, those five states accounted for 40 percent of all U.S. income.
The institute considers itself a nonpartisan think tank, while a website that checks for media bias lists it as left of center. The current report is the fourth study by the institute focusing on income inequality.