New data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that not only is income distributed staggeringly unequally across the country, the richest and poorest places in the United States also tend to clump together geographically.
The Atlantic Cities did some digging and found that this is, by far, the richest area of the United States: the northeast corridor stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C:
Out of the 3,000 counties in the United States, 44 of the 75 highest-income ones are located in the Northeast. The cluster of metro areas that runs from Washington, D.C., through New York to Boston is clearly the richest, containing 37 of these counties, or just over half:
... 79% of the poorest counties, where the median household makes less than $35,437, are located in the American South.
A similar pattern can be noted in charts tracking the level of poverty by school district ...
... and by changes in median income. Notably, the richest areas of the country are also seeing median income decrease, even as it seems the richest citizens are getting even more wealthy:
But the Upper Great Plains are booming, driven by energy boomtowns with massive oil and gas camps which have driven domestic energy production to their highest levels in over 40 years. The U.S. is projected to be producing oil at 9.5 million barrels a day by the end of 2016, a high not reached since 9.6 million barrels a day in 1970.
The distribution makes sense; New York is the heart of the world's financial markets, while the richest county is Falls Church, Va., where federal workers and defense contractors who work in the area surrounding Washington, D.C., tend to cluster. Median income there is a staggering $121,250. That's more than five times that of the poorest, Wilcox County, Ala., where the average household somehow manages to eke out a living on an appalling $22,126 a year. As awful as that sounds, it's actually up from 2011, where Wilcox households made $21,611 a year.
Like it or lump it, this rising inequality is definitely turning some heads ... including the president's. With the 2014 midterm elections looming and the recovery still coming much slower than needed, income inequality is sure to be a bigger issue than it has been for quite some time.