Business

Study: Florida has the fifth-highest income inequality in the country

By Jeff Harrington

Tampa Bay Times

The top one percent of wage earners in Florida make $1.27 million on average, nearly 35 times more than the bottom 99 percent, where the average income is $36,530.

That places Florida fifth highest among all states in income inequality, according to a new paper by Mark Price of the Keystone Research Center and Estelle Sommeiller of the Institute for Research in Economics and Social Sciences.

Among metro areas, Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port ranked No. 16 nationwide for income inequality, between Hailey, Idaho, at No. 15 and Victoria, Texas, at No. 17.

In Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port, the top 1 percent in 2013 collected 26 percent of the income. The average income of the top 1 percent was $1,353,983, almost 35 times as much as the average income of the other 99 percent: $38,921. The ratio is what determined the ranking.

To make it into the top 1 percent in Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port in 2013, you have to have earned at least $468,227.

The pinnacle of inequality rests with New York and Connecticut, but Florida is one of just five states where the top one percent’s share of all income is above 24 percent.

That was the national peak share of the wealthiest in 1928, just before the Wall Street market crash ushered in the Great Depression.

And in many places disparity is still growing, even as the economic recovery has taken root.

The top 1 percent took home the majority of income growth over 2009 – 2013 in 24 states – and captured all income growth in 15 states, according to the latest data.

The most unequal metro area in Florida – and third in the country – is Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, where the top one percent make 73.2 times more than the bottom 99 percent. Average income of Naples’ top one percenters is a stunning $4.19 million.

In addition to Naples and Bradenton, five other Florida metros rank among the 20 most unequal: Sebastian-Vero Beach (No. 4); Key West (No. 5); Miami-Fort Lauderdale (No. 7); Port St. Lucie (No. 14); and Cape Coral-Fort Myers (No. 19).

Nationwide, you’d need to make $389,436 to crack the top one percent. In Florida, where overall income is lower than average, the threshhold to become a one percenter is $385,410.

Bradenton Herald Metro Editor Marc R. Masferrer contributed to this story.

Contact Jeff Harrington at jharrington@tampabay.com. @JeffMHarrington.

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