Sunday, December 15, 2013

Income, By County: Northeast vs. Southeast

In her article America's Wealth Is Staggeringly Concentrated in the Northeast Corridor (December 13, 2013) Emily Badger of The Wire has collected some fascinating statistics from a recent report by the Census Bureau showing the distribution of wealth and poverty in the United States. These reports show that wealth is concentrated in a seacoast corridor stretching from Washington, D.C. to Boston, while poverty in concentrated in the southeastern states that form the Confederacy.

Badger draws her data from a Census Bureau report entitled Model-based Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) for School Districts, Counties, and States Specifically, Badger published the following Census Bureau maps showing the distribution of wealth and poverty, by county. 

Here is Household Income by County: 2012, showing the concentration of wealth along the northern Atlantic coast:

And here is Poverty Rates by County: 2012, showing the prevalence of poverty in vast swaths of the South. Badger states:
Seventy-nine percent of the poorest counties in the country (where the median family makes less than $35,437) are located in the South.

The Midwest exhibits a "checkerboard" pattern for both wealth and poverty. In the West, our attention is drawn to the area of Texas along the border of Mexico and Native American lands in South Dakota, New Mexico and Arizona, where poverty persists.

These maps highlight some striking observations. First, the greatest opposition to programs alleviating poverty such as universal health care exists in the states that, on the average, are the poorest. Second, this opposition is less in states where there is less racial diversity (Kentucky, West Virginia), and it is less in states where minority groups exercise great political power (New Mexico). In states that are on the average poor, racially diverse, but with whites firmly in power, there is steadfast opposition to the Affordable Care Act and other programs of the War on Poverty. 

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