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Colorado Places With Biggest Income Gap Between the Rich and the Rest

Colorado Places With Biggest Income Gap Between the Rich and the Rest
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A recent study demonstrates how enormous the gap is between those with incomes in the top 1 percent and the other 99 percent in cities and counties across Colorado.

The vast majority of residents in the Colorado city with the heftiest difference make around 45 times less than the community's wealthiest 1 percent. That figure jumps to more than 72 times less for the county with the largest disparity between the richest few and the rest of the citizenry.

These revelations are included in "The New Gilded Age," from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute. Authors Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price reveal that income inequality has gone up in all fifty states since the 1970s, and that process has accelerated almost everywhere since the 2009 period associated with what's commonly called the Great Recession. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, an American family in the top 1 percent received in excess of 26 times more income as one in the bottom 99 percent.

The ratio in five Colorado metro areas is above that average, with two of them — Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs — among the sixteen places with the greatest top-to-bottom ratios nationwide.


A similar scenario applies to Colorado counties. Indeed, Pitkin, which includes Aspen, has the seventh-largest chasm between the 1 percent and the 99 percent of 3,016 U.S. counties analyzed. And seven other counties in the state have a top-to-bottom ratio greater than the 23.9 national multiplier circa 1928, the peak the year before the start of the Great Depression.

Colorado as a whole places in twentieth position when it comes to the largest income gap. The average income of the state's top 1 percent is $1,261,053, as compared to $61,165 for the 99 percent left over. The latter is 20.6 times lower than the former. To put it another way, the average 99 percenter makes about a nickel for every dollar earned by the average 1 percenter.

Below, we've focused on all seventeen Colorado cities (out of 916 across the country) and the 57 Colorado counties (from a total of 3,061) included in the institute's examination. The items include the average income of the top 1 percent for each entrant, the average income of the bottom 99 percent, the top-to-bottom ratio and their national ranking. They've been placed in descending order.

As you'll see, rural communities and counties tend to have less income inequality, while larger cities and mountain resort towns skew higher. But this rule isn't iron-clad. For example, both Colorado Springs and its county, El Paso, are in the middle of the pack when it comes to the size of the gap, not near the top, and modest-sized Sterling and its county, Logan, sport a discrepancy considerably larger than the 19.8 ratio for metro Denver and the 28.0 ratio for Denver County.

Oh, yeah: Places where the top 1 percent make ten times more than the other 99 percent are mighty rare, particularly in Colorado. Continue for the concerning details.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts