US states with the highest levels of income inequality

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Income inequality is a growing issue not only in the U.S., but across the globe. A 2017 report from global charity Oxfam found that the richest 1 percent of people in the world control 82 percent of the total wealth. Put another way, just 42 people own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent of the global population.

Income inequality can also be seen on a local scale. Using data from the U.S. Census's American Community Survey, Zippia mapped out how inequality varies from state to state according to each's Gini coefficient, a measure of income distribution used to gauge inequality.

Here's how all 50 U.S. states compare, ranked from most to least income inequality.

  1. New York
  2. Connecticut
  3. Louisiana
  4. California
  5. Florida
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Georgia
  8. Texas
  9. Mississippi
  10. Illinois
  11. Tennessee
  12. New Jersey
  13. Alabama
  14. New Mexico
  15. North Carolina
  16. Kentucky
  17. Rhode Island
  18. Arkansas
  19. South Carolina
  20. Arizona
  21. Pennsylvania
  22. Virginia
  23. Oklahoma
  24. Michigan
  25. Ohio
  26. Missouri
  27. West Virginia
  28. Oregon
  29. Colorado
  30. Montana
  31. North Dakota
  32. Washington
  33. Kansas
  34. Nevada
  35. Maine
  36. Maryland
  37. Indiana
  38. Minnesota
  39. Delaware
  40. Idaho
  41. South Dakota
  42. Wisconsin
  43. Vermont
  44. Iowa
  45. Nebraska
  46. Hawaii
  47. New Hampshire
  48. Wyoming
  49. Utah
  50. Alaska

Zippia also analyzed how quickly inequality expanded in each state between 2010 and 2016. Here the 10 states where income inequality is growing at the fastest rate.

1. Montana
2. California
3. Maine
4. Rhode Island
5. Idaho
6. TIE: New Mexico
6. TIE: Georgia
8. Iowa
9. Indiana
10. Michigan

The issue became a topic of discussion leading up to the World Economic Forum earlier this year as billionaires and world leaders descended into Davos, Switzerland. The Washington Post cited a "growing unease" among attendees surrounding the increasing sense of economic inequality in the world.

Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio warned of an increased pressure on the middle class as blue-collar jobs continue to disappear and predicted that those on the lower end of the economic spectrum would turn against those in power, the Post reported.

In his annual letter to CEOs, BlackRock's Larry Fink wrote: "Since the financial crisis, those with capital have reaped enormous benefits. At the same time, many individuals across the world are facing a combination of low rates, low wage growth, and inadequate retirement systems."

Some economic leaders have proposed plans to alleviate the problem. In Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," the economist proposed a progressive tax on capital, instead of income, which he says will slow the spread of inequality while preserving competition.

While billionaire Bill Gates agrees with much of the discussion in Piketty's book, he proposes an alternative solution. "Rather than move to a progressive tax on capital, as Piketty would like, I think we'd be best off with a progressive tax on consumption," Gates wrote in a 2014 blog post. "Think about the three wealthy people I described earlier: One investing in companies, one in philanthropy, and one in a lavish lifestyle. There's nothing wrong with the last guy, but I think he should pay more taxes than the others."

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