Press Release

New York’s Worst-In-The-Nation Income Inequality Getting Even Worse

If you thought income inequality in New York was bad, you should know it’s getting even worse.

A new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute, Pulling Apart: The Continuing Impact of Income Polarization in New York State, updates FPI’s earlier analyses of income polarization, showing the top one percent’s share of income, the top-to-bottom and top-to-middle income ratios, the Gini index, and other measures.

The bottom line:  New York City and New York State are the worst in the nation, and the extent of inequality is getting worse, not better.

The report uses data from the household surveys conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, income tax data which includes a more accurate indication of capital gains income and high incomes generally, and data from a new national study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute.

Overall, FPI’s review of a wide range of income measures point toward two major conclusions:

  • In recent years, income polarization has intensified nationally; and
  • New York has been one of the national leaders in this undesirable trend.

The top one percent’s share of income dipped during the recession, but has started to rise again in the recovery. In addition, based on the broadest measure of income polarization, the Gini index, as estimated by the US Census Bureau, no state is more polarized than New York and no large city is more polarized than New York City.

While many actions will be needed to reverse New York’s income polarization, an important step currently being considered in Albany is boosting the state’s minimum wage, which the report shows has lost 30% of its purchasing power since the early 1970s.