A Deep Dive on the County Level


In the massive and eclectic mosaic that is America, each county tells its own unique story, interwoven with threads of hope, ambition, dreams, and sometimes, stark contrasts. But in every state, there exists a county where these contrasts are most palpable — where the divide between the opulent and the struggling is not just a mere line but a chasm. These are the counties with the highest income inequality, and their tales are a reflection of the broader American narrative, laying bare the challenges and complexities of the very promise of the American Dream.

Using data sources from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (the latest data available), we analyzed every single U.S. state in terms of the county with the highest income inequality, as measured by its Gini index. The Gini index or Gini coefficient is a measure of inequality of a distribution, in this case income, with a value of 0 expressing total equality and a value of 1 total inequality. A higher Gini index indicates greater inequality.

Read on the find out the county with the worst income inequality in each state as well as what patterns and themes emerge that can better inform us about income inequality in America in general.

Alabama

County with highest income inequality: Pike County

Gini index: 0.5323

Median household income: $40,106

Mean household income: $65,204

Pike County is centered on the city of Troy, home to Troy University and another example of how college towns often feature high income inequality. Pike County is in southeastern Alabama, a little over 50 miles from Montgomery. Incomes are heavily divided, with 57.6% of households earning less than $50,000 a year while a full 20% of households earn $100,000 or more. The county’s three largest industries by employment include Retail Trade, accounting for 14.5% of the workforce; Educational Services, accounting for 13.1% of the workforce; and Manufacturing, accounting for 11.9%. The county seat — Troy — itself exhibits strong income stratification, having a large gap between its median household income of $36,409 and its mean household income of $68,288. What’s more, 58.7% of Troy households earn less than $50,000 per year against 20.5% who earn $100,000 or more.

Alaska

County with highest income inequality: Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area

Gini index: 0.4752

Median household income: $43,405

Mean household income: $57,989

Alaska isn’t divided up into counties as is the case in most other U.S. states. Instead, it is composed of a series of boroughs and Census Areas. In our study of the counties with the highest income inequality in each state, Alaska’s equivalent is Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area. This census area covers a massive amount of land in central Alaska, boasting an area of nearly 148,000 square miles. Its two largest cities are Galena and Fort Yukon, both situated on the Yukon River, but with Galena far downstream to the southwest of Fort Yukon. The Gini index for Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area — 0.4752 — is less than the 0.4818 index for the U.S. as a whole, and therefore this Alaskan census area is comparatively less unequal than many other counties in this study. Hence, the gap between its median household income and mean household income is smaller than, for example, Pike County’s gap; and the latter county, not coincidentally, has a higher Gini coefficient.

Arizona

County with highest income inequality: Apache County

Gini index: 0.5055

Median household income: $34,788

Mean household income: $48,645

Apache County covers the northeast corner of Arizona and is shaped like a tall rectangle. The majority of the county is occupied by a portion of the federally recognized Fort Apache Reservation and Navajo Nation. Out of the 50 highest income inequality counties in our study, Apache County’s Gini index of 0.5055 ranks 34th, which means it is toward the less extreme side of inequality. That said, Apache County is more unequal than the national Gini index of 0.4818. Rather than being a county polarized into impoverished households on one hand and super-wealthy households on the other, Apache County has high income inequality due to the startlingly high percentage of households earning less than $10,000 — 19.9% — contrasted with the high percentage of middle-income households, with 24% earning $50,000 to $99,999. The top three industries by employment are Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting, representing 15.7% of the workforce; Health Care & Social Assistance, accounting for 15.4%; and Manufacturing, accounting for 10.9%.

Arkansas

County with highest income inequality: Lee County

Gini index: 0.5806

Median household income: $29,082

Mean household income: $54,648

Lee County is in east-central Arkansas, with its eastern border being the Mississippi River. Centered on the county seat of Marianna, Lee County’s Gini coefficient of 0.5806 made it rank No. 6 out of 50, having one of the highest rates of income inequality in the study. Although its average household income of $54,648 is far lower than the U.S.’s corresponding figure of $97,196, it is the gap between Lee County’s median and mean household income — which is over $25,500 — that really stands out. More than two-thirds of households (67.4%) earn less than $50,000, against 18.5% that earn $50,000 to $99,999 and 14.1% that earn $100,000 or more per year.

California

County with highest income inequality: Tehama County

Gini index: 0.5145

Median household income: $52,901

Mean household income: $79,138

Tehama County is in northern California, centered on the county seat of Red Bluff, roughly a two-hour drive north of Sacramento. Tehama County’s Gini index is approximately 7% higher than the U.S. Gini index of 0.4818, but when compared to the other 49 counties in this study, Tehama County’s income inequality is on the lower end of the spectrum. Tehama County features a very large percentage of middle-income households earning $50,000 to $74,999 — 17.4% of all households. Yet, at the same time, Tehama County is home to 47.6% of households earning less than $50,000 alongside 23.1% of households earning $100,000 or more. The county’s main three industries are Health Care & Social Assistance, which employs 13.9% of the workforce; Retail Trade, which employs 13.2% of the workforce; and Manufacturing, which employs 9.27% of the workforce.

Colorado

County with highest income inequality: Pitkin County

Gini index: 0.5480

Median household income: $92,708

Mean household income: $172,473

The county seat and biggest city in Pitkin County is Aspen, one of the most famous and affluent ski resort towns in the U.S. That Pitkin County is home to a place like Aspen and has the highest income inequality of all counties in Colorado highlights a more general theme of vacation and resort locations also tending to feature higher-than-average income inequality. In Pitkin County, the distribution of incomes is very skewed, with more than one fifth (21.9%) of households earning $200,000 or more per year. Furthermore, the percentage of households that earn less than $100,000 is approximately 52.4% versus households that earn $100,000 or more, which is 47.5%.

Connecticut

County with highest income inequality: Fairfield County

Gini index: 0.5425

Median household income: $101,194

Mean household income: $164,837

Connecticut’s highest income inequality county — Fairfield County — is the also most populous county in Connecticut. Its location makes it particularly interesting, as it stretches from the southwestern corner of the state, right next to New York City, eastward to encompass four of Connecticut’s largest cities, including Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, and Danbury. Fairfield County contains, for example, the city of Greenwich, which is one of the most affluent places in the U.S., as well as larger urban areas that have witnessed a decline in population and wealth over several decades. An incredible 23.9% of households in Fairfield County have a median household income of $200,000 or more. And more than half (50.5%) of households earn $100,000 or more a year.

Delaware

County with highest income inequality: Sussex County

Gini index: 0.4594

Median household income: $68,886

Mean household income: $92,069

Compared to the nation’s overall income inequality — with a Gini index of 0.4818 — Sussex County might be the most unequal in Delaware, but it’s less unequal than America as a whole. You can see this in the breakdown of income distribution. Approximately 36.4% of households earn less than $50,000, followed by 32.1% of households that earn from $50,000 to $99,999, and lastly, 31.5% of households that earn $100,000 or more per year.

Florida

County with highest income inequality: Hardee County

Gini index: 0.5343

Median household income: $41,395

Mean household income: $65,000

Florida has for sometime been a state riddled with income inequality. And the county with the greatest income inequality is Hardee County, which is located right in Central Florida, southeast of the Tampa Bay metro area and northeast of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area. Its county seat is Wauchula, situated on U.S. Route 17 in Florida. Incomes in general in Hardee County are on the lower side, but there is still substantial inequality, with more than half of households (56.6%) earning less than $50,000 a year, while 28.3% of households earn between $50,000 and $100,000, and 15.1% of households earn $100,000 or more.

Georgia

County with highest income inequality: Macon County

Gini index: 0.5796

Median household income: $33,163

Mean household income: $56,218

Out of the 50 counties in our study, Macon County has the seventh highest level of income inequality, with a Gini coefficient of 0.5796, significantly higher than the national Gini coefficient of 0.4818. A staggering 17.7% of households in Macon County earn less than $10,000 a year, with 64.5% of households earning less than $50,000 a year. This is in contrast to more than a fifth of households (21.7%) that earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, plus 13.6% of households that earn $100,000 or more a year. According to Data USA, the top industries by employment of the county’s workforce are Manufacturing (123.2%), Health Care & Social Assistance (13.7%), and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting (10.2%).

Hawaii

County with highest income inequality: Hawaii County

Gini index: 0.4747

Median household income: $68,399

Mean household income: $91,885

Hawaii’s most unequal county in terms of income — Hawaii County — actually has the third lowest income inequality of the 50 counties in our list. With a Gini index of 0.4747, income inequality in Hawaii County is lower than the nationwide average. And this generally low inequality is reflected in the data. Approximately 37.2% of households in Hawaii County earn less than $50,000, while 30.3% of households earn $50,000 to $99,999, and at the top, 32.5% of households earn $100,000 or more per year.

Idaho

County with highest income inequality: Madison County

Gini index: 0.4909 (40th highest)

Median household income: $53,498

Mean household income: $77,337

The county with the greatest income inequality in Idaho — Madison County — has a level of inequality very comparable to the national average. With a Gini index of 0.4909, Madison County is only slightly more unequal than the U.S. overall (Gini index of 0.4818). Just under a quarter of all households (24.1%) earn $100,000 or more per year, but the largest portion is made up of households earning $100,000 to $149,999 (16%), limiting the amount of really high-earners in Madison County. A little under half of all households (46.4%) earn less than $50,000 per year, while 29.7% of households earn $50,000 to $99,999.

Illinois

County with highest income inequality: Gallatin County

Gini index: 0.5286 (25th highest)

Median household income:

Mean household income: $92,069

Located in the far southeast of Illinois, Gallatin County is the county with the highest income inequality in Illinois. Overall, it ranks right smack in the middle, 25th highest out of 50. Nearly half of all households (48.4%) earn less than $50,000 a year, while more than a fifth (21.2%) earn $100,000 or more a year. The county’s top industries by employment are Retail Trade (18.2% of the workforce), Health Care & Social Assistance (14.5%), and Manufacturing (12.9%).

Indiana

County with highest income inequality: Blackford County

Gini index: 0.4847 (44th highest)

Median household income: $45,080

Mean household income: $61,505

The funny thing about the county with the highest income inequality in Indiana is that it’s not that unequal. Its Gini index of 0.4847 is only slightly higher than the national figure of 0.4818. There’s a very robust middle-income population in Blackford County, with 30.3% of households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 versus the true high-earners, those earning $100,000 or more a year, who make up 16% of all households. More than half of all households (53.7%) in Blackford County earn less than $50,000 a year.

Iowa

County with highest income inequality: Adams County

Gini index: 0.5072 (33rd highest)

Median household income: $57,981

Mean household income: $85,877

In the grand scheme of things, Iowa’s most unequal county is on the lower end of the overall rankings. Iowa’s county with the highest income inequality — Adams County — was 33rd out of 50, so it’s not particularly notorious. And this makes sense, because with a Gini coefficient of 0.5072, Adams County is close to the midpoint between zero (complete income equality) and one (complete income inequality).

Adams County does feature a recurring characteristic: Its main industries, in terms of percentage of the workforce employed, are a combination of healthcare and primary sectors, in this case the breakdown was Health Care & Social Assistance (22.2%), Manufacturing (17.1%), and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting (13.3%).

Kansas

County with highest income inequality: Meade County

Gini index: 0.5423 (19th highest)

Median household income: $66,042

Mean household income: $113,325

Located in southwestern Kansas, Meade County is an interesting entry on our list of the county with the highest income inequality in each state. Here, there’s a solid middle-income segment, with 39.4% of households in Meade County earning $50,000 to $99,999. At the same time, there is a sizable upper-income segment, with 26.4% of households earning $100,000 or more — and, notably, 7.8% of all households earned $200,000 or more.

The top-employing industries in Meade County are Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting (17.2% of the workforce), Health Care & Social Assistance (15.2% of the workforce), and Educational Services (12% of the work force). Another startling data point is the gap between mean and median household income in Meade County, equal to a more than $47,000 difference.

Kentucky

County with highest income inequality: Knox County

Gini index: 0.5503 (13th highest)

Median household income: $29,206

Mean household income: $47,979

Located in Appalachia, in southeastern Kentucky, Knox County is a notable coal-producing town. The largest industries in Knox County by employment are Health Care & Social Assistance (18.1%), Retail Trade (13.9%), and Educational Services (12.2%). Meanwhile, the highest paying industries are Mining, Quarrying, & Oil & Gas Extraction (0.661% of the workforce), Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting, & Mining 0.486% of the workforce), and Finance & Insurance, & Real Estate & Rental & Leasing 2.99% of the workforce).

While Knox County has the highest income inequality in the state of Kentucky, this county is not like a Versailles-style ultra-wealthy on one pole and utterly poor at the other pole. Approximately 67.2% of households in Knox County earn less than $50,000 a year. This is pitted against 21.6% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999 a year and the 11.1% of households that earn $100,000 or more. This county’s Gini index is quite high, so high that the level of income inequality in Knox County enabled it to place 13th out of 50.

Louisiana

County with highest income inequality: East Carroll Parish

Gini index: 0.6860

Median household income: $25,049

Mean household income: $60,718

Located in the northeast corner of Louisiana, with its parish seat in the city of Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish is easily the county with the highest income inequality. Indeed, out of all 50 counties in the study, East Carroll Parish has the second highest Gini index. Compared to America’s Gini index of 0.4818, East Carroll Parish’s income inequality is roughly 42% higher than the national level. The huge $35,669 gap between median and mean household income shouldn’t come as a surprise when a place has a Gini coefficient this high. More than two-thirds (68.6%) of households in East Carroll Parish earn less than $50,000, while another 18.4% earn between $50,000 and $100,000 and 13.1% earn $100,000 or more a year. Health Care & Social Assistance (21.7% of the workforce), Public Administration (13.4% of the workforce), Retail Trade (11.6% of the workforce), and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting (9.46% of the workforce) are the top industries in terms of employment.

Maine

County with highest income inequality: Aroostook County

Gini index: 0.4624

Median household income: $47,278

Mean household income: $63.636

Out of all 50 counties included in our list of the counties with the highest income inequality in each state, Maine’s Aroostook County ranked as the second lowest in terms of income inequality. Aroostook County’s Gini index of 0.4624 is less than the U.S. Gini index of 0.4818.

Maryland

County with highest income inequality: Talbot County

Gini index: 0.4983

Median household income: $79,349

Mean household income: $116,514

Talbot County is situated on the central Eastern Shore of Maryland, across the Chesapeake from cities like Annapolis and Washington, D.C. Although Talbot County’s Gini coefficient of 0.4983 makes it the county with the highest income inequality in Maryland, in the grand scheme, its inequality isn’t too bad (it ranks 37th out of 50, and its Gini index is only slightly higher than the U.S. overall). As such, the distribution of household incomes is fairly balanced, with 30.7% of households earning less than $50,000 per year, 30.5% earning between $50,000 and $100,000, and 38.9% earning $100,000 or more.

Massachusetts

County with highest income inequality: Suffolk County

Gini index: 0.5281

Median household income: $80,260

Mean household income: $116,843

Suffolk County covers much of the Boston area, including the city of Boston proper, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. Suffolk is the county with the highest income inequality in Massachusetts, yet its incomes notably skew towards the high end. For instance, more than a third (35.6%) of households earn less than $50,000, while another 23% of households earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. However, both those segments are overshadowed by the 41.4% of households that earn $100,000 or more per year.

Michigan

County with highest income inequality: Wayne County

Gini index: 0.4906

Median household income: $52,830

Mean household income: $74,894

Wayne County covers much of the Detroit metro area, stretching down in the southwest to West Sumpter, in the northwest to Northville, and the northeast to Grosse Pointe; the county’s eastern border is the border with Canada. Although its income inequality exceeds every other county in Michigan, Wayne County only has a Gini index of 0.4906, which isn’t much higher than the U.S.’s Gini index of 0.4818. The gap between median and average household income isn’t too great, with 47.6% of households earning less than $50,000, 28.4% of households earning $50,000 to $99,999, and 24% of households earning $100,000 or more.

Minnesota

County with highest income inequality: Stevens County

Gini index: 0.5123

Median household income: $65,750

Mean household income: $95,156

Stevens County is located far out there, in western, central Minnesota, right near the Lake Traverse Reservation. There is a gap of almost $30,000 between median household income and average household income. This distortion of the mean household income upward for Stevens County is due mainly to the 28.3% of households that earn at least $100,000 a year or more. In addition to them, 33% of households earn $50,000 to $99,999, while 38.6% of households earn less than $50,000. The three primary industries by employment, according to Data USA, are Health Care & Social Assistance (15.8%), Educational Services (14.9%), and Manufacturing (13.4%).

Mississippi

County with highest income inequality: Humphreys County

Gini index: 0.5727

Median household income: $30,327

Mean household income: $55,909

Out of all 50 counties included in our list of the counties with the highest income inequality in every state, Humphreys County in Mississippi ranked as the eighth highest in terms of income inequality. Humphreys County’s Gini index of 0.5727 is considerably higher than the U.S. Gini index of 0.4818. According to Data USA, the top three industries in Humphreys County by employment are Health Care & Social Assistance (15.8% of the workforce), Manufacturing (15.8% of the workforce), and Retail Trade (10.6% of the workforce). The income distribution in Humphreys County is very lopsided, with nearly 70% (69.6%) of households earning less than $50,000 a year, while 18% of households earn from $50,000 to $99,999 and another 12.4% earn $100,000 or more.

Missouri

County with highest income inequality: Adair County

Gini index: 0.5515

Median household income: $46,639

Mean household income: $71,907

Centered on Kirksville, in northeastern Missouri, Adair County has the highest income inequality in the state and ranks 12th out of 50 counties in terms of its inequality. The income distribution among households in Adair County is very uneven, with 52.6% of households earning less than $50,000 per year, against 28.1% of households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, and 19.4% of households earning $100,000 or more.

Montana

County with highest income inequality: Judith Basin County

Gini index: 0.5195

Median household income: $51,691

Mean household income: $74,560

Judith Basin County is about as close to the dead center of Montana as a county can get. With its county seat at the town of Stanford, Judith Basin County is pretty far from Montana’s bigger cities, being, for instance, roughly 160 miles from Billings, the state’s largest city. Judith Basin County has an intriguing employment breakdown. For example, the top occupational role in Judith Basin County is Management Occupations, accounting for 32.1% of the workforce. At the same time, the top industry by employment is Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting, which accounts for 41% of the workforce. Income inequality in Judith Basin County is fueled by uneven distribution, with 48.7% of households earning less than $50,000, while at the same time, more than a fifth of households (21.5%) earn $100,000 or more — indeed, almost 11% of households earn $200,000 or more.

Nebraska

County with highest income inequality: Fillmore County

Gini index: 0.4931

Median household income: $66,410

Mean household income: $96,007

Named for President Millard Fillmore, Fillmore County has the highest income inequality in the state, but in the overall scheme of things, its Gini index of 0.4931 means that it’s not that unequal. According to Data USA, the main industries by employment include Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting (14.7% of the workforce), Health Care & Social Assistance (13.4% of the workforce), and Retail Trade (11.6% of the workforce). While 28.3% of households earn $100,000 or more per year in Fillmore County, this is balanced by the 38.4% of households earning less than $50,000 and the 33.3% of households earning $50,000 to $99,999 a year.

Nevada

County with highest income inequality: Storey County

Gini index: 0.4752

Median household income: $66,713

Mean household income: $93,984

Storey County is simultaneously one of the least populated counties in Nevada and one of the fastest growing economies. Compared to the other counties on our list and nation in general, Nevada’s most unequal county does not suffer from a high rate of income inequality. The income distribution over all households in Storey County is fairly even, with 37.6% of households earning less than $50,000 a year, 29.9% earning between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, and 32.5% earning $100,000 or more a year.

New Hampshire

County with highest income inequality: Grafton County

Gini index: 0.4900

Median household income: $73,755

Mean household income: $102,862

New Hampshire’s county with the greatest income inequality has a Gini index that’s only slightly higher than the U.S.’s Gini index of 0.4818. Still, with a Gini coefficient of 0.4900, Grafton County has the highest income inequality in the state. Both median and average household incomes are one the higher side. More than one third of households (35.3%) earn less than $50,000 per year, while a comparable 34.1% of households earn $100,000 or more per year. In the middle is the 30.6% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999 a year.

New Jersey

County with highest income inequality: Essex County

Gini index: 0.5483

Median household income: $67,826

Mean household income: $112,403

The county in New Jersey with the highest income inequality — Essex County — has one of the biggest gaps between its average household income ($112,403) and median household income ($67,826): A difference of $44,577. This isn’t too surprising once you know what areas the county covers: Northeastern New Jersey, just outside New York City, stretching from Newark in the east, to East and West Orange in the center, to Fairfield in the far northwest. This area includes lots of cities that have grown in both population and wealth due to the spillover from the New York City area, with more people willing to live in North Jersey and work in the Big Apple rather than live in the latter; the area also includes a lot of cities still recovering or stagnating from deindustrialization. Incomes are polarized between households earning less than $50,000 (38.7% of households) and those earning $100,000 or more (35.8% of households).

New Mexico

County with highest income inequality: Harding County

Gini index: 0.7279

Median household income: $35,900

Mean household income: $142,117

Harding County is one of the least populated counties in the U.S. Located out in the northeast of New Mexico, Harding County’s Gini index of 0.7279 is the highest in the whole study. No doubt the low population helps distort the imbalance of income distribution in Harding County. Just shy of two-thirds of households (65.4%) earn less than $50,000 per year. Against this there is the 15.3% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999 a year and the 19.3% of households that earn $100,000 or more a year. What’s even crazier is that more than one in 10 households earn $200,000 or more.

New York

County with highest income inequality: New York County

Gini index: 0.5968

Median household income: $93,956

Mean household income: $172,695

New York County, in actuality, is just the borough of Manhattan. Hence, its extremely high median and mean household incomes, and its incredibly high Gini index of 0.5968, the fourth highest in the study. Household incomes are heavily skewed toward the high end, with 47.9% of all households earning $100,000 or more a year. Moreover, nearly a quarter of all households (24.9%) earn $200,000 or more a year. Meanwhile, 32.1% of households earn less than $50,000 per year and squeezed in between is the 20% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999 per year.

North Carolina

County with highest income inequality: Bertie County

Gini index: 0.5517

Median household income: $37,571

Mean household income: $59,138

With a Gini coefficient of 0.5517, Bertie County has the highest income inequality in North Carolina; and out of the 50 counties in our final list, Bertie County’s inequality was 11th highest. The county seat is located at Windsor, with Bertie County’s eastern border being delimited by the Albemarle Sound and Chowan Rivers. Both median and average household incomes are very much on the low side, and an astonishing 19.5% of households earn $15,000 to $24,999. The portion of households that earn less than $50,000 a year is 62.7%, while more than a fifth (22.6%) of households earn $50,000 to $100,000 a year. Finally, there is a small though not insignificant proportion of households — 14.6% — that earn $100,000 or more per year.

North Dakota

County with highest income inequality: Cavalier County

Gini index: 0.5476

Median household income: $60,284

Mean household income: $105,220

North Dakota’s county with the highest income inequality is located up north, along the Canadian border, between 120 and 130 miles from Winnepeg. The gap between average household income ($105,220) and median household income ($60,284) is substantial, at $44,936. There is roughly the same percentage of households that earn between $50,000 and $100,000 (30.2%) as households that earn $100,000 or more a year (30.7%).

Ohio

County with highest income inequality: Noble County

Gini index: 0.5122

Median household income: $46,144

Mean household income: $70,433

The county with the highest income inequality in Ohio is Noble County, which is centered on the county seat of Caldwell as well as on Interstate 77, which runs through it north-to-south. The county’s top industries by employment, according to Data USA, are Health Care & Social Assistance (17.6% of the workforce), Manufacturing (14.9% of the workforce), and Retail Trade (14% of the workforce). Close to a fifth of all households (19.1%) earn $100,000 or more per year, while more than half of all households (53.4%) earn less than $50,000 per year.

Oklahoma

County with highest income inequality: Roger Mills County

Gini index: 0.5496

Median household income: $58,385

Mean household income: $90,856

About 130 miles west of Oklahoma City, Roger Mills County lies on the border with the Texas Panhandle. The county’s Gini coefficient of 0.5496 puts on among the top 15 counties with the highest income inequality in the study. Roger Mills County has a solid pillar of middle-income earners, with 19.1% of households making $50,000 to $75,000 a year. However, there’s also a considerable proportion of households earning $100,000 or more — 23.6% of households. Meanwhile, 45.8% of households earn less than $50,000 a year.

Oregon

County with highest income inequality: Wasco County

Gini index: 0.4817

Median household income: $57,853

Mean household income: $83,885

Wasco County, located in Oregon, boasts the highest income inequality of all counties in the state, yet its Gini coefficient of 0.4817 is almost identical to the national figure of 0.4818. Delving into the numbers reveals a deeper story: While the median household income in the county sits at $57,853, the mean swells to a much higher $83,885, indicating that there are households with incomes considerably above the average. This is further evidenced by the fact that 42.7% of households earn less than $50,000 annually, painting a picture of a significant portion of the population struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile, 34.4% of households fall into the $50,000 to $99,999 bracket, and a notable 22.9% command incomes of $100,000 or more a year.

Pennsylvania

County with highest income inequality: Philadelphia County

Gini index: 0.5178

Median household income: $52,649

Mean household income: $77,454

Like its name suggests, Philadelphia County is centered upon and covers the entire city of Philadelphia. With a Gini index of 0.5178, income inequality in Philadelphia County is worse than the U.S.’s overall level, but it is still more equal than most of the 50 counties to make our list (ranking 28th out of 50). A little over one in 10 households (10.7%) earn less than $10,000 per year and 48.1% of households earn less than $50,000 per year. This is somewhat balanced by the 27.7% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999 per year and the 24.1% of households that earn $100,000 or more.

Rhode Island

County with highest income inequality: Bristol County

Gini index: 0.4890

Median household income: $95,102

Mean household income: $132,141

Similar to other New England states, the county with the highest income inequality in Rhode Island — Bristol County — doesn’t have that bad of a Gini index: 0.4890 versus the U.S.’s 0.4818. Bristol County is just southeast of Providence, covering key cities like Bristol, Warren, and Barrington. The county is certainly a high-income place, with both the median and average household incomes being above their corresponding national figures. As such, just under half of all households (47.7%) earn $100,000 or more a year, compared to 26.3% of households earning $50,000 to $99,999 and 26.1% of households earning less than $50,000 a year.

South Carolina

County with highest income inequality: Charleston County

Gini index: 0.5158

Median household income: $70,807

Mean household income: $108,070

Charleston County covers far more than just Charleston or its immediate environs. The county stretches roughly 40 miles northeast of the city of Charleston and covers a wide swathe of land to the west. Charleston County has the highest income inequality of any county in South Carolina, but this is mainly due to household incomes being skewed towards the higher end. For instance, roughly the same proportion of households in Charleston County earn less than $50,000 a year (36.2% of households) as do those that earn $100,000 or more (36% of households). In the middle is 27.8% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999 per year.

South Dakota

County with highest income inequality: McPherson County

Gini index: 0.5457

Median household income: $54,324

Mean household income: $86,710

McPherson County is located in northern South Dakota and lies along the border with North Dakota. It’s a small county with only a couple thousand inhabitants. The distribution of incomes by household is all over the place in McPherson County, with peaks like 15.6% of households earning $15,000 to $24,999 and 19.4% of households earning $50,000 to $74,999 as well as 15.5% of households earning $100,000 to $149,999 a year, intermixed with valleys of low percentages. According to Data USA, the three main industries by employment include Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting (22.9% of the workforce), Health Care & Social Assistance (15.7% of the workforce), and Construction (11.2% of the workforce).

Tennessee

County with highest income inequality: Hancock County

Gini index: 0.5585

Median household income: $29,650

Mean household income: $57,955

Reportedly the fourth least populated county in Tennessee, Hancock County has the ninth highest level of income inequality in the study. With its county seat at Sneedville, Hancock County lies in northeastern Tennessee, bordering the western tail of Virginia. The income inequality here is less driven by a disproportionate number of high-earning households, and more driven by imbalances between lower-income households and middle-income households. For example, 26.7% of households in Hancock County earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, but a massive 63.8% of households earn less than $50,000 a year. Indeed, just under one fifth of all households (19.6%) earn $15,000 to $24,999 a year.

Texas

County with highest income inequality: Sherman County

Gini index: 0.5881

Median household income: $55,667

Mean household income: $111,110

Located in the Texas Panhandle, due north of Amarillo, lies Sherman County. Sporting a Gini index of 0.5881, income inequality in Sherman County is the fifth highest in the study. The gap between the average household income ($111,110) and the median household income ($55,667) is an enormous $55,443. And while 29.5% of households earn incomes of $50,000 to $99,999 per year, that figure is easily matched by the 24.9% of households that earn $100,000 or more per year.

Utah

County with highest income inequality: Summit County

Gini index: 0.5044

Median household income: $116,351

Mean household income: $176,064

Summit County is a sprawling entity, stretching far into eastern Utah as well as west, encompassing the affluent city of Park City, which like Aspen in Colorado’s most unequal county, is home to world-renowned ski resorts. Therefore, Summit County’s high income inequality is due to incomes being skewed toward the higher side. An incredible 55.9% of households in Summit County earn $100,000 or more a year, compared to 24.7% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999, and just 19.3% of households that earn less than $50,000.

Vermont

County with highest income inequality: Lamoille County

Gini index: 0.5000

Median household income: $66,016

Mean household income: $98,015

Located east the city of Burlington and Lake Champlain, and not too far from the Canadian border, Lamoille County is Vermont’s most unequal county in terms of income. Interestingly, its Gini index of 0.5000 is right at the midpoint of the Gini index’s scale from zero to one. There is a substantial gap between average household income and median household income, of roughly $32,000. This is due in large part to the 30.6% of households that earn $100,000 or more a year versus the 32.5% that earn between $50,000 and $100,000, and the 36.8% that earn less than $50,000 a year.

Virginia

County with highest income inequality: Charles City County

Gini index: 0.5194

Median household income: $59,543

Mean household income: $87,501

Charles City County lies along the banks of the James River, which forms its southern border, along with the Chickahominy River forming its eastern one. This Virginia county is situated in between Richmond and Newport News. Just over one quarter of the households in Charles City County earn $100,000 or more a year. This is counterbalanced by nearly two-fifths (39.6%) of households that earn less than $50,000 a year and another 35.3% of households that earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year. The county’s main industries, according to Data USA, are Manufacturing (12.5% of the workforce), Retail Trade (10.9% of the workforce), and Health Care & Social Assistance (10.2% of the workforce).

Washington

County with highest income inequality: San Juan County

Gini index: 0.5377

Median household income: $68,577

Mean household income: $110,926

Situated in the Salish Sea and at least a three-hour drive north by northwest of Seattle, San Juan County has the worst income inequality in Washington state. Just over a third of all households (33.9%) earn $100,000 or more a year, and a full 11% of households earn $200,000 or more. This stands against 30% of households that earn $50,000 to $99,999 and 36.1% of households that earn less than $50,000 a year. According to Data USA, the primary industries in terms of employment are Construction (13.5% of the workforce), Accommodation & Food Services (9.46% of the workforce), and Retail Trade (9.17% of the workforce).

West Virginia

County with highest income inequality: Pleasants County

Gini index: 0.5551

Median household income: $58,433

Mean household income: $97,696

The county with the highest income inequality in West Virginia — Pleasants County — is in northern West Virginia, along the border with Ohio and not far from the city of Marietta on the Ohio River. With a Gini index of 0.5551, Pleasants County’s level of income inequality is the 10th highest in the study. A surprisingly high proportion of households in the county — 28.5% — earn $100,000 or more per year. Meanwhile, a comparable percentage of households earn $50,000 to $99,999 — 29.4%. On the low end, 42.2% of households earn less than $50,000 a year.

Wisconsin

County with highest income inequality: Sawyer County

Gini index: 0.4921

Median household income: $53,011

Mean household income: $77,394

Located in northwestern Wisconsin, Sawyer County partially overlaps with the reservation of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Although its Gini coefficient of 0.4921 makes Sawyer County the one with the highest income inequality in Wisconsin, compared to the national overall, the county’s level of inequality isn’t too bad. Income distribution among households in Sawyer County takes on a bell-shaped curve: 46% of households earns less than $50,000; 34% of households earn between $50,000 and $100,000; and 20% of households earn $100,000 or more per year.

Wyoming

County with highest income inequality: Teton County

Gini index: 0.5297

Median household income: $94,498

Mean household income: $159,027

Similar to Colorado’s most unequal county — Pitkin County, home to Aspen — and Utah’s most unequal county — Summit County, home to Park City — Teton County is home to the luxurious and distinguished Jackson Hole ski area. The high incomes of the inhabitants of this area are a prime contributor to the skew of income distribution toward the high end. Nearly half of all households (47.5%) earn $100,000 or more, while only 20.5% of households earn less than $50,000 a year and 31.9% of households earn $50,000 to $99,999 a year.



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