Income inequality in Minnesota’s largest counties

About 86 percent of populous counties in the United States have more income equality than Hennepin County.
Source: U.S. Census 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates
About 86 percent of populous counties in the United States have more income equality than Hennepin County.

Eighty-six percent of the nation’s largest counties have more income equality than Hennepin County, according to an analysis of the investigative journalism site ProPublica.

ProPublica created an app that shows income inequality in the country’s 818 largest counties, including the 10 most populous counties in Minnesota.

Income inequality is measured using the Gini index. The index, explains ProPublica’s Al Shaw, is “a statistical measure that ranges from zero, which would describe a community in which every citizen has precisely the same income, to one, which would describe the opposite extreme, in which one person receives literally all of the income.”

For example, Ramsey County’s Gini index is 0.46, according to ProPublica, which means that 72 percent of the nation’s biggest counties have more income equality. Hennepin County’s index is 0.479. At the other end of  the list of Minnesota’s big counties is Sherburne with an index 0.361, which, according to ProPublica, means that zero percent of the country’s largest counties have better income equality.

Nationally, 99% of counties have more income equality than Manhattan.

Here’s a look at 10 Minnesota counties on the list, ordered by ProPublica’s Gini index (the “% better” column represents the percent of populous counties in the United States with better income equality):

 

County Gini index % Better
Hennepin 0.479 86%
Ramsey 0.46 72%
St. Louis 0.452 65%
Olmsted 0.437 47%
Stearns 0.406 16%
Anoka 0.395 9%
Washington 0.39 7%
Scott 0.384 4%
Carver 0.38 3%
Sherburne 0.361 0%

Have a look at the data yourself, using ProPublica’s elegant app, Income Inequality Near You.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Michele Olson on 11/08/2011 - 11:31 am.

    What this doesn’t reflect is how many people move into Hennepin County from other places, either because of lack of services, adequate shelter or job opportunity.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/08/2011 - 12:44 pm.

    I still don’t understand why in a free society people concern themselves with how much money other people make relative to their own earnings. What difference does it make to you?

    I mean, it’s not like the government has a big pile of money that they’ve printed up and the politicians get to decide who gets what and some people are afraid that some people are getting more than others from this common wealth. Oh wait … now I get it.

  3. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 11/08/2011 - 02:07 pm.

    The concern is for America. Levels of inequality this high are indications of instability and cannot be maintained. It’s not about how much money someone has. It never has been. That is simplistic non-sense. When power is concentrated, we will move far, far from the free society you think we are. Bottom line is that extreme inequality will destroy nations.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/08/2011 - 03:54 pm.

    “That is simplistic non-sense. When power is concentrated, we will move far, far from the free society you think we are.”

    Please give me an example of where a democracy moved away from being a free society because of “income inequality.” Thanks.

  5. Submitted by Jerilyn Jackson on 11/08/2011 - 04:29 pm.

    All you have to do is look to the history of this country to see the consequences of income inequality. The gilded age of the 1880s to the 1920s was the last time such tremendous wealth was concentrated among so few. I think we all know how that ended. You can see it playing out all over again today in terms of social unrest and financial disaster. History does repeat itself.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/08/2011 - 05:37 pm.

    “I think we all know how that ended.”

    I guess I don’t know how it “ended” so you’ll have to educate me. What “social unrest” are you referring to? It seems to me that this nation is still standing.

    This nation is the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of the world. And we got that way because we didn’t allow government to decide when someone had too much.

  7. Submitted by Jerilyn Jackson on 11/08/2011 - 06:42 pm.

    The government more than tripled the income tax rate on the richest citizens (effectively taking away their wealth) after the Great Depression – that’s how it ended. Then President Eisenhower raised the top marginal income tax to 91% in the fifties. Because we allowed “government to decide when someone had too much,” there followed the longest period of equality and prosperity this country has ever seen.

  8. Submitted by Diane Clare on 11/08/2011 - 08:34 pm.

    Wow, Government guarenteed income equality. I would not have worked one day at the decent paying jobs I did the last 40 odd years.

    Love retirement, so I know I would have loved every minute of not having to work for what I needed or wanted in life.

  9. Submitted by Karen Cole on 11/08/2011 - 09:32 pm.

    I think the reason it’s a problem is that people don’t feel they have a common stake in things. When people feel they’re stuck at the bottom and can’t get ahead, they’re less likely to want to work for the common good. Same with people at the opposite end of the spectrum. I think one reason this country moved forward so much after WWII was that there was a feeling we were all in it together. That common sense is very undermined now.

  10. Submitted by Dennis Ringstad on 11/08/2011 - 09:53 pm.

    “I guess I don’t know how it “ended” so you’ll have to educate me. What “social unrest” are you referring to? It seems to me that this nation is still standing.”

    It ended well thanks to the New Deal, laws like the Glass-Steagall Act and government (“socialist”) projects like the civilian conservation corp and the building of the interstate highway system.

    “This nation is the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of the world. And we got that way because we didn’t allow government to decide when someone had too much.”

    Ever hear of American antitrust law (monopoly) or progressive taxation?

  11. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/09/2011 - 07:01 am.

    Jerilyn, the Great Depression ended when the male work force was sent to Europe and the Pacific to employ the tanks, guns and bombs the women in our factories were churning out.

    Confiscatory tax rates had nothing to do with prosperity, as John Kennedy said when he cut them in half as soon as he could. That’s what started the great boom of the 60s, repeated in the 80s when Reagan cut them in half again.

    It’s sad and pathetic that some people actually believe that government taxation is the source of our prosperity.

  12. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 11/09/2011 - 07:48 am.

    ‘Jerilyn, the Great Depression ended when the male work force was sent to Europe and the Pacific to employ the tanks, guns and bombs the women in our factories were churning out.’

    Yes, and who paid for those “tanks, guns, and bombs”? Were they funded by free-will contributions from churches, private charities, or the Chamber of Commerce?

    No, they were paid for by the federal government, with revenues from steeply progressive taxes.

    Federal taxes continued to be steeply progressive for nearly three decades after 1945, too, and during this time, the United States enjoyed steady prosperity not seen since. This does not in and of itself prove that progressive taxation causes prosperity – this is only a correlation, and there were other factors at work, such as very cheap oil compared to today and few big industrial competitors. However, the correlation does demonstrate that progressive taxation is not, in and of itself, a job-killer.

    There’s a serious disconnect when one understands, as Dennis Tester does, that military Keynesianism works, but denies that any other kind of Keynesianism does. If spending government money on lots of military hardware, which promptly gets eaten up by war, is enough to stimulate the economy, then imagine how effective it would be to spend government money on things that actually last.

  13. Submitted by Jim Halonen on 11/09/2011 - 09:50 am.

    Every country in the world has “income inequality”. America, with our freedoms, offers the best opportunity for most to achieve a high standard of living. If strong central planning governments are best, why are not the eastern europeon countries economic juggernauts?

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