A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends
Inequality has been increasing in Tennessee for nearly two decades. This can be observed by ranking all Tennessee 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 Long-Term Trend
Since the late 1970s, income inequality has increased in Tennessee. 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 64 percent since the 1970s. The gap between the rich and the poor increased faster than in all but 15 states. The gap between the rich and middle class increased faster than in all but 9 states.
The Recent Trend
Over the past decade, income inequality has increased in Tennessee. While the average incomes of most families with children have stayed about the same or increased, the incomes of the richest fifth of families with children have increased substantially.
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 12 states. The gap between the rich and the middle class also increased faster than in all but five states.
1. The direction of this change was not statistically significant at the 95 percent level of confidence.