Report: Nevada ranks 4th in income inequality

epi map
Source: Economic Policy Institute

Nevada is the fourth most unequal state in the nation when it comes to income distribution, according to a new report.

Income for the wealthiest 1 percent of Nevadans in 2015 was 32.7 times that of the bottom 99 percent, according to “The New Gilded Age,”  released Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute. The report also found that the top 1 percent gathered one fourth of the total income in the state.

Only in New York, Connecticut and Florida was a higher ratio of wealth concentrated at the top than in Nevada, the report found.

From 2009 to 2015, as the nation was recovering from the Great Recession, the top 1 percent in Nevada captured 81 percent of the state’s overall income growth – a higher percentage than in any other state during that period.

The report did not discuss specific conditions that would account for Nevada’s high income inequality. The state’s unemployment rate has dropped over the years, but wages have been somewhat stagnant, a condition economists generally attribute to the high volume of lower wage service sector jobs that have characterized Nevada’s recovery from the Great Recession.

Of more than 900 metro areas ranked in the study, Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise was the 19th most unequal. Reno was in 26th.

“Policy choices and cultural forces have combined to put downward pressure on the wages and incomes of most Americans even as their productivity has risen,” the report said. “As a result, CEOs and executives at the commanding heights of the private economy have appropriated a rising share of the nation’s expanding economic pie, setting new norms and expectations for high-level compensation that are being emulated among nonprofit hospital executives, college presidents, surgeons, and lawyers.”

“The gains of those at the top have come at the expense of the vast majority of working families,” the report added.

EPI predicts that Trump administration policies, from abandoning Obama-era policy to expand overtime eligibility to the massive 2017 tax legislation “expected to distribute 83 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent,” will exacerbate income inequality in the U.S.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.


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