One map explains income inequality in Alabama

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 7, 2014 

Who has all the money where you live? If you live in Alabama, that answer is now a little easier to find.

Much of the political discussion around income in/equality (and the socioeconomic reality of a post-Great Recession America, in which fewer people are making more and more money) centers around what kinds of workers deserve wealth — for example, do fast-food workers deserve a wage increase? But that can ignore a more specific reality for many: is income inequality an issue for you?

AL.com has put together an interactive database and map, ranking Alabama's counties by the inequality index, known as the Gini index (otherwise known as a coefficient that measures statistical deviation).

Zero is perfect equality; 1 means that only one household has all the wealth.

As AL.com notes, the broader research behind the spread of the nation's wealth indicates that inequality is highest in the most densely populated areas and in the Southeast. "Incomes tend to be closer together in the Midwest and Mountain West," reporter Brendan Kirby wrote. Alabama's average Gini index, drawing from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, was .4705, ranking it as the 12th most unequal state in the nation.

"Unlike many states, the greatest levels of inequality tend to show up in poor, rural counties," Kirby wrote. Conecuh County is worst, with an index of .5235; Elmore County is the best, with an index of .4039. This is further broken down by zip code. According to AL.com's number crunching, the worst is Sawyerville, in Hale County. The zip in Phenix City, Ala., has an index of 0.47, ranking it 148 out of Alabama's 645 zip codes (from greatest to least).

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