This Map Shows The Most Unequal Counties In America

The most unequal county isn’t where you might expect: It’s in Wyoming.

This Map Shows The Most Unequal Counties In America
[Photo: Mark Lewis/Getty Images]

The most unequal county in the U.S. isn’t near Wall Street or Silicon Valley, but Yellowstone National Park. In Teton County, Wyoming, the richest 1% earns 233 times more than everyone else, with average incomes of $28,163,786.


A new map from cost information website How Much, based on data from an Economic Policy Institute report, shows where the biggest income gaps are across the country. They’re not always in large cities.

In La Salle County, Texas, the top 1% makes 125.6 times more than the bottom 99%. In Franklin County, Florida, the top 1% makes 73.4 times more. California, despite a massive income gap, doesn’t have any counties in the top 10 in the country.

The map illustrates that the problem is everywhere. Income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s, and on average, the top 1% makes 25.3 times more than the rest of us. After the housing crisis, nearly all income growth went to the top 1% (in 15 states, all income growth between 2009 and 2013 went to the top 1%).

In some places, like Teton County or parts of Florida, the income gap is driven by the fact that the resort areas are popular places for millionaires and billionaires to move; in others, like parts of South Texas and Louisiana, the gap is driven by who has oil rights and who doesn’t. But the overall trends across the country come from bigger changes in policy.

From the 1940s to the late 1970s, inequality kept dropping. The minimum wage went up, and unemployment was low. Collective bargaining was common. And giving massive bonuses to executives while laying off workers–the kind of thing that coal companies like Peabody did before declaring bankruptcy–was politically untenable.

Of course, all of that could change, as the authors of the Economic Policy Institute report write:


We need policies that return the economy to full employment, return bargaining power to U.S. workers, and reinstate the cultural taboo on allowing CEOs and financial sector executives at the commanding heights of the private economy to appropriate more than their fair share of the nation’s expanding economic pie.

Look at the details of income inequality in your state here.

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Map courtesy of How Much, a cost information website.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.