We're Number 18!

We're Number 18!

Laura Sanchez
3 min read
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No, we’re not talking about Lobo women’s basketball and their terrific No. 18 national ranking.

Finally there’s a list that doesn’t put New Mexico in the top or bottom five. We’re 18th in a ranking of states by the size of their income gaps.

The study averaged the incomes of the wealthiest five percent of families to get a top number and the incomes of the poorest 20 percent of families to get a bottom number. Then the states were ranked by the ratio between the two numbers.

Arizona tops the list, its richest five percent averaging $223,081 and poorest 20 percent at $15,719. Its richest families are 14.2 times as wealthy as its poorest.

New Mexico weighs in at No. 18 with a top figure of $157,011 and a bottom figure of $13,748, its richest 11.4 times as wealthy as the poorest.

Wyoming holds 50th place, its $145,587 elite and $18,171 wage slaves yielding a ratio of 8.0.

According to the article, everyone’s income is up, but the top 20 percent have made out like bandits compared to the bottom 20 percent. Check it out in detail at this website: http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/25/news/economy/income_gap/index.htm.

Not being a statistician, I don’t know what any of this means. I thought there might be a correlation between states with the narrowest income gaps and states with a minimum wage higher than the federal $5.15.

But no. The states with higher minimum wages—Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and the District of Columbia—were scattered up and down the income gap list.

There was a correlation, however, between wealth and higher minimum wages. Eight of the ten richest states—Hawaii, Alaska, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and District of Columbia—had higher minimum wages. So which came first, the wealth chicken or the higher minimum wage egg?

Obviously one could spin these income gap statistics either way. You could say we need a higher minimum wage because our poorest 20 percent is poorer than the huddled masses everywhere else except Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Or, you could say we need to help out our pathetic rich, needier than the plutocrats in every state but Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wyoming. How can our ambassadors of gracious living hold up their heads in Vail or Gstaad? How can they afford teensy personal Eclipse jets costing eight times their pathetic yearly incomes?

It hardly seems to matter in our Jekyll and Hyde economy. Just before Groundhog Day, the news arrived that Americans have achieved a “negative personal savings” rate for the first time since the Great Depression. The corporate media merrily spun this turd in the punch bowl as “Americans are feeling wealthier so they’re withdrawing their savings.”A

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