The Cities Where Incomes Are the Most Equal

Studies
Cities Where Incomes Are Most Equal

How might an America with income equality look? Maybe a little like Romeoville, Illinois, or Spring Hill, Tennessee. When it comes to income distribution, these places are among the most equal in the country, according to a NerdWallet study.

Of course, income inequality still exists among households in these communities, but the disparity between the rich and poor is much less than elsewhere in the U.S., where the gap has been widening.

In 2007, the average household in the top 5% had an income 26 times higher than the average household in the bottom 20%, and by 2013, that difference had increased to almost 30 times, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Measuring inequality

Economic inequality can be measured in many ways, such as through the distribution of wealth or consumption. For this study, we’ve chosen to focus on the distribution of household income in over 1,500 U.S. cities. To determine where the greatest income parity and the most inequality exist, we used the Gini index, which is also known as the Gini coefficient. This index measures the extent to which income distribution differs from perfect equality.

What the numbers mean

A Gini index of zero, indicating perfect equality, would mean that every household in the U.S. had the same income. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an index of 100 would mean that a single household received the entire income of the country. The Gini index for the U.S. is 48 before the redistributive effects of taxes and transfers, such as Social Security and welfare. U.S. cities span a broad range on the index — from 27 to 63.

This relative measure of income distribution doesn’t tell the whole story, however. By itself, the Gini index can indicate an city’s income equality, but not the community’s economic health. To get a sense of that picture, the index can be paired with a city’s median income data.

Below are the U.S. cities that are the most and least equal in income. We’ve included data on the median income for the top 20% and bottom 20% of households in each city to present an estimate of the absolute level of wealth in each area.

By the numbers

59: The Gini index for Harrison, New York, which is among the highest in the U.S. and indicates that the economic differences between rich and poor residents are some of the biggest.

$936,926: The difference in Newport Beach, California, between the average income for the bottom 20% of households and the top 5%.

$108,032: The difference, one of the smallest in the nation, in Romeoville, Illinois, between the average income for the bottom 20% of households and top 20%.

31 times: The difference in New Orleans, Louisiana, between the average income of the top 20% and the bottom 20% of households.

America’s most equal cities by income

Rank City and state Gini index Mean household
income for bottom 20%
Mean household
income for middle 20%
Mean household income
for top 20%
Median household income
1 Romeoville, Illinois 30.36 $24,315 $67,645 $132,347 $66,034
2 Spring Hill, Tennessee 30.96 $26,735 $74,214 $157,191 $75,390
3 Oswego, Illinois 31.69 $30,326 $92,716 $191,082 $92,142
4 Kyle, Texas 32.12 $23,274 $75,966 $151,363 $76,141
5 Wylie, Texas 32.43 $27,443 $82,046 $170,856 $82,036
6 Riverton, Utah 32.54 $31,771 $84,042 $190,321 $82,373
7 Andover, Minnesota 32.65 $30,091 $92,015 $188,847 $92,399
8 Cottage Grove, Minnesota 32.67 $27,358 $79,672 $172,203 $79,137
9 West Jordan, Utah 32.8 $21,750 $66,668 $141,025 $66,263
10 South Jordan, Utah 32.96 $32,932 $87,577 $199,260 $86,775
11 Independence, Kentucky 33.01 $18,155 $65,413 $133,275 $64,297
12 Plainfield, Illinois 33.08 $36,265 $107,304 $228,633 $107,932
13 Roy, Utah 33.18 $18,860 $59,779 $126,575 $59,468
14 Horn Lake, Mississippi 33.59 $14,756 $47,200 $100,597 $46,935
15 Little Elm, Texas 33.61 $25,371 $78,936 $168,719 $77,612
16 Derby, Kansas 33.62 $20,758 $64,844 $142,393 $65,412
17 Maricopa, Arizona 33.64 $23,831 $66,029 $150,381 $64,705
18 Ramsey, Minnesota 33.74 $30,860 $83,443 $191,655 $82,099
19 La Vergne, Tennessee 33.77 $21,755 $54,987 $132,820 $53,498
20 New Lenox, Illinois 33.78 $27,914 $90,567 $192,568 $90,950
21 Corinth, Texas 33.84 $26,634 $90,093 $193,627 $88,713
22 Syracuse, Utah 33.85 $30,813 $84,617 $194,438 $83,963
23 Flower Mound, Texas 34.15 $41,879 $121,737 $280,414 $121,605
24 Spanish Fork, Utah 34.16 $20,809 $61,258 $138,464 $62,073
25 Rosemount, Minnesota 34.27 $27,864 $90,630 $197,690 $90,012
26 South Elgin, Illinois 34.45 $24,609 $82,677 $177,675 $81,566
27 Apex, North Carolina 34.63 $27,594 $91,980 $199,557 $89,269
28 Champlin, Minnesota 34.71 $27,639 $81,569 $187,463 $82,270
29 Rowlett, Texas 34.73 $25,143 $83,074 $184,714 $83,002
30 Homer Glen, Illinois 34.77 $27,417 $92,148 $206,443 $92,841
31 Watauga, Texas 34.92 $16,601 $61,217 $134,471 $60,138
31 Lake in the Hills, Illinois 34.92 $25,289 $83,836 $188,002 $82,987
33 La Puente, California 35.24 $17,654 $54,656 $127,825 $54,510
34 Bowie, Maryland 35.31 $31,217 $103,878 $235,727 $103,618
34 Lehi, Utah 35.31 $26,478 $74,949 $181,527 $74,566
36 Elk River, Minnesota 35.39 $23,080 $75,747 $170,762 $73,586
37 O’Fallon, Missouri 35.52 $22,735 $76,263 $173,021 $76,691
38 Parker, Colorado 35.54 $26,964 $95,328 $215,081 $96,429
38 Surprise, Arizona 35.54 $16,792 $57,024 $131,680 $56,741
40 Bartlett, Illinois 35.78 $27,126 $96,839 $217,977 $97,590
41 Bartlett, Tennessee 35.84 $27,070 $78,413 $191,021 $79,116
42 St. Peters, Missouri 35.94 $20,912 $68,576 $160,988 $68,329
43 Moorpark, California 35.96 $29,300 $100,975 $237,894 $100,477
44 Mount Juliet, Tennessee 36.04 $19,433 $69,121 $159,724 $68,986
44 North Ridgeville, Ohio 36.04 $19,764 $65,274 $152,610 $65,255
46 Ankeny, Iowa 36.06 $18,834 $72,236 $163,028 $71,469
46 Wentzville, Missouri 36.06 $23,238 $70,779 $176,097 $68,765
48 Oviedo, Florida 36.07 $22,638 $82,221 $189,178 $82,143
48 Pelham, Alabama 36.07 $21,129 $68,651 $161,315 $68,347
50 Villa Park, Illinois 36.08 $18,461 $72,735 $159,942 $72,831

 

America’s least equal cities by income

Rank City and state Gini index Mean household income for bottom 20% Mean household income for middle 20% Mean household income for top 20% Median household income
1 Cookeville, Tennessee 63.48 $2,666 $27,389 $176,180 $27,090
1 Beverly Hills, California 63.48 $14,055 $91,971 $662,761 $89,225
3 Miami Beach, Florida 61.07 $8,840 $42,209 $276,750 $42,295
4 East Lansing, Michigan 60.78 $4,178 $32,919 $202,562 $32,644
4 Naples, Florida 60.78 $13,217 $79,251 $499,784 $77,294
6 Athens, Ohio 60.74 $2,520 $17,566 $123,872 $17,774
7 Carbondale, Illinois 59.95 $1,483 $17,801 $111,250 $17,236
8 Blacksburg, Virginia 59.69 $2,889 $31,627 $179,237 $30,883
9 Ithaca, New York 59.31 $600 $28,179 $144,947 $28,208
10 Harrison, New York 58.62 $21,857 $108,302 $632,220 $104,340
10 State College, Pennsylvania 58.62 $2,451 $27,146 $141,020 $26,529
12 Atlanta, Georgia 58.59 $6,865 $47,022 $254,085 $46,783
13 Monroe, Louisiana 58.23 $5,863 $27,247 $161,512 $26,630
14 West Lafayette, Indiana 57.34 $3,437 $29,875 $154,217 $29,901
14 Bloomington, Indiana 57.34 $3,009 $28,232 $142,916 $27,393
16 Sandy Springs, Georgia 57.13 $12,634 $61,267 $347,238 $60,777
17 Harvey, Illinois 56.91 $669 $19,500 $91,816 $19,531
18 Hattiesburg, Mississippi 56.89 $4,926 $26,432 $136,075 $25,991
19 Winter Park, Florida 56.79 $13,274 $60,685 $340,382 $60,434
20 College Station, Texas 56.4 $3,763 $31,476 $159,595 $30,947
21 Statesboro, Georgia 56.36 $2,309 $21,681 $98,797 $21,375
22 New Orleans, Louisiana 56.24 $5,784 $36,099 $177,840 $35,837
23 Miami, Florida 56.11 $6,218 $30,223 $155,335 $30,126
24 Urbana, Illinois 56.07 $3,214 $28,628 $137,229 $28,085
25 Oxford, Ohio 55.55 $3,001 $33,478 $154,086 $34,159
26 Cincinnati, Ohio 55.22 $4,943 $32,733 $151,700 $32,316
27 Chapel Hill, North Carolina 55.09 $7,635 $65,732 $298,119 $63,757
28 Greenville, South Carolina 55.05 $7,018 $39,860 $192,954 $39,591
29 Galveston, Texas 55.04 $6,352 $38,690 $176,812 $38,218
30 Coral Gables, Florida 54.84 $15,456 $91,511 $422,713 $91,019
31 Ruston, Louisiana 54.83 $2,017 $26,328 $115,477 $25,315
32 Newport Beach, California 54.81 $18,018 $107,755 $504,144 $107,257
32 Summit, New Jersey 54.81 $27,126 $117,674 $605,420 $115,184
34 Berkeley, California 54.69 $6,918 $62,951 $272,963 $62,761
35 Bonita Springs, Florida 54.64 $12,857 $51,286 $256,573 $51,009
36 Athens-Clarke County, Georgia 54.6 $3,726 $32,010 $139,988 $31,884
37 Texarkana, Texas 54.51 $7,669 $38,530 $170,701 $38,826
38 Providence, Rhode Island 54.48 $6,176 $36,878 $165,352 $36,700
39 Atlantic City, New Jersey 54.42 $5,636 $26,813 $124,957 $26,511
40 New York City, New York 54.38 $9,119 $51,828 $233,613 $51,526
41 Starkville, Mississippi 54.27 $4,175 $29,563 $134,256 $30,220
42 Lake Oswego, Oregon 54.22 $16,876 $79,280 $377,492 $78,555
43 Dallas, Texas 54.19 $9,237 $42,537 $202,654 $42,026
44 Auburn, Alabama 54.17 $4,301 $39,613 $168,316 $39,378
45 Kent, Ohio 54.03 $5,123 $34,262 $151,147 $33,280
46 Tampa, Florida 54.02 $8,450 $42,259 $196,934 $41,927
47 West Hollywood, California 54 $9,444 $54,428 $244,730 $52,829
48 Statesville, North Carolina 53.97 $7,302 $31,845 $148,760 $31,546
49 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 53.96 $9,627 $35,965 $177,810 $34,621
50 Fayetteville, Arkansas 53.81 $5,261 $37,285 $165,035 $36,619

 

Cities where income inequality decreased the most from 2007 to 2013 

Rank City and state Gini index in 2007 Mean household income for bottom 20% in 2007 Mean household income for middle 20% in 2007 Mean household income for top 20% in 2007 Median household income in 2007 Gini index in 2013 Mean household income for bottom 20% in 2013 Mean household income for middle 20% in 2013 Mean household income for top 20% in 2013 Median household income in 2013 Reduction in Gini index 2007- 2013
1 Laguna Hills, California 54.6 $22,039 $102,043 $487,580 $100,869 45.8 $23,145 $92,650 $311,930 $92,294 8.78
2 Tupelo, Mississippi 54.1 $8,253 $45,320 $201,640 $44,113 47.2 $9,214 $41,831 $142,068 $41,465 6.94
3 Portsmouth, Ohio 54.8 $5,236 $23,456 $116,502 $23,301 48.2 $7,436 $29,256 $109,214 $28,956 6.59
4 South Pasadena, California 51.7 $18,283 $86,035 $352,968 $85,878 45.3 $21,522 $81,494 $280,208 $81,398 6.4
4 Alexandria, Louisiana 56.7 $7,222 $32,762 $173,529 $32,721 50.3 $7,959 $34,338 $139,827 $34,197 6.4
6 New Braunfels, Texas 44.2 $13,799 $60,543 $182,613 $60,075 37.8 $15,876 $56,597 $138,802 $56,391 6.36
7 Sarasota, Florida 57.3 $10,792 $44,586 $246,859 $44,015 51.1 $10,402 $42,064 $177,344 $42,782 6.24
8 Fitchburg, Massachusetts 48.6 $11,029 $49,920 $172,834 $49,241 42.4 $10,024 $43,962 $124,522 $44,312 6.18
9 Ruston, Louisiana 60.9 $3,712 $29,384 $168,404 $27,808 54.8 $2,017 $26,328 $115,477 $25,315 6.07
10 Ridgecrest, California 46.0 $10,763 $56,990 $178,352 $57,209 40.0 $12,556 $58,449 $145,634 $57,708 6.05
11 Moorpark, California 41.5 $26,607 $102,920 $290,865 $101,237 36.0 $29,300 $100,975 $237,894 $100,477 5.54
11 Carteret, New Jersey 45.9 $9,494 $56,761 $176,807 $57,614 40.4 $10,961 $58,350 $139,640 $57,763 5.54
13 Duncanville, Texas 42.6 $14,835 $55,580 $166,843 $54,343 37.3 $16,817 $54,865 $139,960 $55,619 5.26
14 Tuscaloosa, Alabama 56.9 $5,083 $32,564 $164,741 $32,103 51.7 $6,842 $37,331 $151,364 $37,901 5.18
15 Aiken, South Carolina 51.8 $9,389 $54,418 $226,576 $53,934 46.7 $10,374 $52,488 $175,070 $51,627 5.1
16 Quincy, Illinois 48.0 $9,746 $39,491 $141,745 $39,517 42.9 $9,999 $39,001 $117,108 $38,805 5.06
17 Pearl, Mississippi 44.4 $10,235 $41,640 $132,038 $41,481 39.4 $13,354 $45,340 $122,814 $46,474 4.98
18 Columbus, Nebraska 42.3 $13,546 $49,915 $146,483 $50,423 37.3 $15,724 $47,877 $123,789 $47,265 4.97
19 Madera, California 45.5 $13,191 $44,846 $152,779 $45,476 40.7 $10,449 $41,130 $113,102 $40,975 4.77
20 Saratoga, California 49.6 $28,176 $156,584 $576,900 $154,223 44.9 $33,323 $175,597 $535,514 $170,373 4.73
21 Spartanburg, South Carolina 54.4 $7,526 $35,503 $162,659 $36,216 49.7 $5,380 $32,870 $117,571 $33,381 4.68
22 Northport, Alabama 45.0 $7,308 $47,930 $135,345 $48,414 40.3 $11,632 $50,395 $128,354 $50,617 4.68
23 Dana Point, California 51.3 $19,521 $91,643 $366,963 $91,751 46.6 $19,693 $82,738 $289,429 $81,584 4.67
24 Bethel Park, Pennsylvania 42.5 $17,188 $66,316 $190,411 $66,427 37.9 $19,963 $70,737 $174,450 $71,229 4.6
25 Charleston, Illinois 57.6 $3,675 $23,811 $134,131 $23,381 53.1 $5,807 $26,960 $127,896 $26,521 4.54
26 Parkland, Florida 43.9 $30,296 $117,590 $364,832 $116,726 39.6 $37,604 $125,865 $344,270 $126,105 4.34
27 Wake Forest, North Carolina 42.4 $19,340 $68,003 $207,257 $66,228 38.2 $19,271 $80,102 $193,760 $78,791 4.21
28 Columbus, Indiana 46.9 $12,964 $54,439 $188,779 $53,347 42.7 $13,984 $54,785 $161,626 $54,877 4.19
29 Lake Forest, Illinois 56.6 $36,063 $175,360 $953,476 $169,278 52.4 $27,948 $159,681 $686,283 $152,415 4.17
30 Ferguson, Missouri 46.0 $9,459 $40,325 $132,633 $40,737 41.8 $7,439 $39,074 $101,810 $39,377 4.16
31 Fredericksburg, Virginia 52.4 $12,030 $49,027 $213,400 $48,208 48.3 $10,250 $48,869 $178,601 $47,945 4.11
32 Rocky Mount, North Carolina 48.3 $6,866 $40,607 $142,041 $40,454 44.2 $8,931 $36,086 $113,190 $36,308 4.08
32 Sumter, South Carolina 52.5 $8,707 $33,650 $156,287 $33,114 48.4 $7,650 $38,644 $141,415 $38,825 4.08
34 Bessemer, Alabama 50.6 $7,133 $31,578 $130,098 $31,582 46.6 $5,398 $28,838 $96,060 $28,991 4.01
35 Ponca City, Oklahoma 47.4 $10,696 $42,708 $149,976 $42,568 43.4 $10,792 $40,011 $124,122 $40,059 3.98
36 Bartlesville, Oklahoma 49.0 $11,274 $46,860 $175,373 $46,874 45.1 $11,581 $48,465 $157,570 $47,928 3.91
37 Cornelius, North Carolina 48.4 $25,681 $87,450 $351,005 $85,970 44.6 $20,920 $75,984 $248,865 $76,959 3.84
38 Odessa, Texas 46.9 $11,033 $47,554 $162,088 $47,102 43.1 $13,968 $54,427 $164,470 $54,009 3.82
39 Eureka, California 46.3 $8,027 $35,155 $123,505 $34,962 42.5 $9,870 $37,808 $113,453 $37,683 3.76
40 Williamsport, Pennsylvania 48.2 $6,562 $30,540 $111,285 $30,245 44.5 $7,697 $34,839 $106,912 $35,096 3.71
41 Lake Havasu City, Arizona 45.2 $13,913 $46,714 $162,078 $45,969 41.5 $11,559 $42,065 $123,231 $41,533 3.68
42 Watertown, New York 45.8 $8,641 $37,168 $121,474 $37,099 42.1 $9,453 $38,874 $108,903 $38,736 3.67
43 Edinburg, Texas 49.0 $5,177 $34,759 $121,509 $33,429 45.3 $8,193 $43,602 $131,233 $44,066 3.66
44 Salisbury, North Carolina 50.6 $8,619 $42,016 $163,898 $41,880 47.0 $8,113 $34,737 $120,413 $35,036 3.64
45 New Bern, North Carolina 49.0 $7,350 $37,341 $133,262 $36,624 45.4 $7,390 $42,551 $125,555 $42,691 3.63
46 Villa Park, Illinois 39.6 $18,092 $72,031 $186,927 $72,347 36.1 $18,461 $72,735 $159,942 $72,831 3.52
46 Corsicana, Texas 48.1 $7,945 $35,009 $125,578 $35,217 44.6 $8,766 $35,636 $114,720 $36,022 3.52
48 Crown Point, Indiana 43.4 $18,073 $62,285 $193,186 $60,465 39.9 $16,127 $61,219 $161,425 $61,574 3.46
48 Big Spring, Texas 46.1 $7,694 $33,527 $114,075 $32,641 42.6 $10,230 $44,584 $130,506 $43,993 3.46
50 Marion, Iowa 41.9 $17,024 $59,096 $171,192 $59,815 38.4 $16,124 $64,859 $155,497 $64,582 3.46

 

Methodology

To find the places where the nation’s incomes are the most and least equal, we ranked cities using the Gini index from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey.

To find the cities where income equality increased, we looked at the absolute change in the Gini index from 2007 to 2013.


Lehi, Utah, image via iStock.