Sadaf Knight
August 17, 2018

Florida Ranks 49th for Worst Income Inequality in the U.S.

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

The state’s economic inequality has worsened, with the top 1 percent of families earning almost 40 times as much as the bottom 99 percent.

The top 1 percent of income earners have continued to amass a greater portion of all income earned even after the Great Recession, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The analysis shows that although incomes took a hit during the recession, the top 1 percent of families have accrued a disproportionate amount of the income gains in each state and the nation. In Florida, the top 1 percent of families earned 39.5 times as much as the bottom 99 percent, as of 2015.

EPI’s report provides insights into income inequality both within states, counties and metropolitan areas, as well as across the country. It examines inequality along four lines:

  1. Income gap between the top 1 percent and bottom 99 percent
  2. The income threshold for being considered in the top 1 percent
  3. The share and concentration of top 1 percent national income within states, counties and metro areas
  4. Trends in income distribution over time

Florida’s income inequality has worsened

Nationally, the top 1 percent earned 26.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent, on average. The average income of the top 1 percent was $1,316,985, compared to $50,107 for the bottom 99 percent.

In Florida, which ranked 46th in 2013, income inequality is much worse than the national average. The average income of the top 1 percent of families was $1,543,124, compared to an average of $39,094 for the bottom 99 percent. It was second only to New York, which has the worst income inequality across all states with a ration of 44.4 between the top and bottom average incomes.

Florida metro areas and counties among worst in the nation

In addition to Florida overall having the second-worst inequality as a state, many of Florida’s metropolitan areas ranked poorly as well. Eight out of the 25 worst metro areas were in Florida. Similarly, Florida’s counties were among the worst in terms of income inequality. Nine out of the worst 25 counties were in Florida.

What is Considered the “Top 1 Percent”?

In Florida, the income threshold to be considered in the top 1 percent is $417,587, which is just below the national threshold of $421,926. For the top 0.01 percent in Florida, the threshold is $12,027,665. The average income of the top 0.01 percent was $45,167,509.

Among the 25 metro areas with the highest thresholds for the 1 percent, three were in Florida. Palatka, FL was one Florida metropolitan area that ranked among the metropolitan areas with the lowest thresholds for being considered in the 1 percent, at $160,009.

Among counties, Collier and Monroe counties were among the 25 highest income thresholds for the 1 percent, at $1,138,585 and $923,765 respectively.

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