If nothing else, the Occupy Wall Street protest have solidified the theme of income inequality in America. With their calls to vilify the 1%, the protests, whether you supported them or not, have gotten people thinking about where wealth in this country goes. A semi-rigorous study by Politico found that the number of news stories mentioning income inequality skyrocketed from less than 100 before the protests started to more than 500 by the end of October. And with a new infographic, Mint shows how income is broken down across the country.
The infographic first breaks the country down by median income. There are few surprises here. The Northeast and the West coast are much wealthier than the rest of the country, with the exception of Illinois, which, of course, has the benefit of having Chicago. New York State is surprisingly low, showing that a lot of poor people in a massive city can quickly lower the median income even when counter-balanced by a handful of the enormously wealthy.
Where the graphic gets truly interesting (though harder to read) is where it breaks down--by state--the levels of income. In this view, you can see what percent of people make less than $25,000 a year, and what percent make more than $200,000. Amazing as it seems, keep in mind that making $200,000 a year doesn’t quite get you to the 1%. You have to earn a little more than $500,000 in a year for that. But still, seeing which states have the largest percentage of high earners and which have the highest percentage of low earners says a lot about where the money is going in this country.
Where do people who make a lot of money tend to congregate? You might guess New York, or even California, and both of those states do have large percentages. But--in support of a lot of Occupy Wall Street’s arguments--money seems to coalesce around the capital, where the money can be put to the most use influencing policies to keep the money right where it is. Washington, D.C. and Virginia are two of the states with the largest percentages of the highest income group. (Also included is New Jersey, which beats out New York. If you’re so wealthy, the thinking seems to be, why live in the city?)
Does political power give people an opportunity to enrich themselves? Or do wealthy people position themselves near the seat of power to make sure they can exert influence? It’s probably a little of both. (It’s certainly not the nightlife. Zing!) Either way, Occupy Wall Street’s argument that money and politics are hopelessly intertwined is true on a larger level than just campaign finance or corporate political donations: There is a lot of money in D.C. Check out the full infographic below or go here.