Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Income gap still growing in Maine (PPH-040908)

Income gap still growing in Maine
The chasm between rich and poor is widening, with the top 20 percent slowly pulling away.

From staff reports April 9, 2008

The income gap between the wealthiest Mainers and the poorest is continuing to grow, but the national rate of income inequality remains higher, according to an analysis released early today.

Maine is one of 37 states where incomes for the bottom 20 percent of families are growing more slowly than incomes for the top 20 percent, according to "Pulling Apart, a State-by-State Analysis of Income Inequality."

The analysis was a joint research project of the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The report states that Maine's richest families -- the upper fifth -- had incomes that were 6.3 times as large as the poorest fifth. In the late 1980s, that figure was 5.4.

The gap between rich and middle-income families also is widening, according to the report. Incomes for the state's richest 20 percent were 2.3 times the incomes for the middle 20 percent, slightly up from a figure of 2.1 in the late 1980s.

Overall, from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s, the income for the top 20 percent of Maine families grew by 29.5 percent, compared to 16.3 percent for the middle 20 percent and 11.4 percent for the bottom 20 percent.

The gap between Maine's richest and poorest families is the 33rd largest among the states, according to the report. The worst income inequality is in New York, Alabama, Mississippi, Massachusetts and Tennessee.

The report noted that the U.S. Census data that was used was adjusted for inflation but does not include capital gains income, which means it probably underestimates the growth in incomes among wealthier families.

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