July 19, 2018 – In The new gilded age: Income inequality in the U.S. by state, metropolitan area, and county, a new paper published by EPI for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), Mark Price, an economist at the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, PA and Estelle Sommeiller, a socio-economist at the Institute for Research in Economic and Social Sciences in Greater Paris, France detail the incomes of the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent by state, metropolitan area, and county.
“North Carolinians can’t afford the lack of attention by policymakers to the fundamental economic challenge of our age,” said Patrick McHugh, Economic Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “For the past 30 years, a few fortunate people have managed to accumulate embarrassing riches while most working people fall further and further behind. Years of tax cuts and deregulation in North Carolina have done nothing to address this problem, so it’s time to pass policies that are actually designed to address the real problems that we have.
“While the economy continues to recover, federal and state policymakers should make it a top priority to grow the incomes of working people.”
According to the report, so far in the recovery (from 2009 to 2015), the top 1 percent have captured half or more of all income growth in nine states, including North Carolina, where only top 1 percent incomes grew (while bottom 99 percent incomes declined).
Price and Sommeiller lay out the average incomes of the top 1 percent, the income required to be in the top 1 percent, and the gap between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent in every county and state as well as in 916 metropolitan areas. The authors found that in 2015, the top 1 percent took home 21 percent of all income nationwide, while the top 1 percent took home 17.2 percent of all the income in North Carolina.
A series of accompanying fact sheets detail income inequality by state. Key findings include:
  • The top 1 percent earned 20.6 times more than the bottom 99 percent in North Carolina—making North Carolina the 21st most unequal in the country.
  • The average annual income of the top 1 percent was $902,972. To be in the top 1 percent in North Carolina, one would have to earn $343,066.
  • The most unequal metro area in North Carolina is Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, while the most unequal county was Mecklenburg.
Learn more about the data on North Carolina and the nation at EPI’s interactive feature here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Patrick McHugh, patrick.mchugh@ncjustice.org, or 919-856-2183; Mel Umbarger, Senior Communications Specialist, at mel@ncjustice.org.
The Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center, conducts non-partisan analysis of state budget and tax policy and monitors economic conditions in the state. We produce timely and accessible research that contributes to policy discussions and public debate, with the goal of building a broader understanding of the role of policy in supporting economic opportunity for all.