Washington, D.C. Has the Highest Income Inequality of Any State in the Country

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According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the District of Columbia has a higher level of income inequality than any state in the country:

The District has a higher level of income inequality than any state in the country, with households in the top 20 percent of income having 29 times more income than the bottom 20 percent. The bottom fifth of DC households had just two percent of total DC income in 2016, while the top fifth had a staggering 56 percent.

The Gini coefficient measures income inequality in a given city, state or country. The Gini scale is from zero to one, with zero representing perfect equality, and one representing perfect inequality. (In other words, the higher your score, the more unequal your economy is.)


In 2016, D.C.’s Gini coefficient was 0.542—higher than any state in the country. Of course, D.C. is not a state, so it probably makes more sense to compare D.C.’s economic inequality to that of other large cities, like New York or San Francisco. Consider the run-amok racial inequality in Boston: the Boston Globe found that non-immigrant black households in the Boston area have a median net worth of $8—yes, eight dollars—compared to white households’ $247,500.

Still, this provides a snapshot of inequality in the District that should ring true for anyone who lives here. It makes a perverse kind of sense, then, that Republicans in Congress are set to vote for a tax bill that will grossly accelerate income inequality in the United States, right here in Washington. The call is coming from inside the house.