April 2008

Pulling Apart in Connecticut: Trends in Family Income, Late 1980s to Mid 2000s

Douglas Hall, Ph.D. & Shelley Geballe, J.D., M.P.H.

Over the last two decades, the gaps in average, inflation-adjusted ("real") income between wealthy and poor Connecticut families and between wealthy and middle-income families have grown more in Connecticut than in any other state in the country. While real income for the poorest families in the state has declined since the late 1980s by 17%, the largest drop of any state, the wealthiest families have enjoyed an increase in their real income of 45%. Middle-income families have seen little change in their real incomes, which increased by only 5.1%. This modest increase for middle-income residents was the lowest among all states.

Connecticut is the only state in which real income for the poorest fifth of families declined significantly since the late 1980s. On average, real income for low-income families in the U.S. increased by $1,814 (11%), but in Connecticut, real income for these families actually declined by $4,437 (-17%). The average income of the wealthiest fifth of Connecticut families now is 8 times greater than the income of the poorest fifth, compared to 4.6 times in the late 1980s. The wealthiest families now have income 2.7 times that of middle-income families, compared to 1.9 times in the late 1980s. Both of these increases in income inequality are the greatest among all states.

Issue Area:
Family Economic Security