Pulling
Apart:

A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends

**OKLAHOMA**

Inequality has been increasing in Oklahoma for nearly two decades. This can be observed by ranking all Oklahoma families with children according to their income level, dividing them into five groups (or fifths) of equal size, and calculating the average income of each fifth of families. This analysis shows by the mid-1990s:

- The richest 20 percent of families with children had average incomes 13 times as large as the poorest 20 percent of families.

- The richest 20 percent of families with children had average incomes 2.8 times as large as the middle 20 percent of families.

**The Long-Term Trend**

Since the late 1970s, income inequality has increased in Oklahoma. The long-term economic growth of the past two decades was not shared evenly among the poor, the rich, and the middle class. Instead, the top fifth of families with children fared substantially better than other income groups.

The gap between the top fifth of families and the bottom fifth of families grew by 84 percent since the 1970s. The gap between the rich and the poor increased faster than in all but 6 states.

- The average income of the poorest fifth of families fell by $5,140 between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, from $12,670 to $7,480.

- The average income of the middle fifth of families fell by $4,290 between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, from $38,530 to $34,240.

- The average income of the richest
fifth of families increased by $7,730 between the late
1970s and the mid-1990s, from $86,650 to $94,380.
^{(1)}

**The Recent Trend**

Over the past decade, income inequality has increased in Oklahoma. While the average incomes of poor and middle income families with children have decreased since the mid-1980s, the average income of the richest fifth of families has stayed about the same.

The gap between the top fifth of families and the bottom fifth of families increased between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s faster than in all but 13 states. The gap between the rich and the middle class also increased.

- The average income of the poorest fifth of families decreased by $1,450 between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, from $8,930 to $7,480.

- The average income of the middle fifth of families decreased by $2,790 between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, from $37,030 to $34,240.

- The average income of the richest
fifth of families increased by $4,670 between the
mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, from $89,710 to $94,380.
^{1}

**End Notes**

1. The direction of this change was not statistically significant at the 95 percent level of confidence.