Connecticut’s 4th Congressional district, centered in Fairfield Country, has been ranked as the district with the 5th highest level income inequity in the nation. A ranking of congressional districts of by their level of income inequality, conducted by Bloomberg, uses the Gini coefficient, a formula that measures the distribution of income across a population. The closer a Gini number is to 1, the greater the level of inequality; the closer to zero, the closer to perfect equality.
Generally, the Bloomberg Businessweek website points out, the U.S. congressional districts with the most inequality share certain traits: “they contain a small, enormously wealthy elite surrounded by impoverished neighbors.” Most of the districts with the greatest disparity are located in or near major urban metropolitan areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, and Washington.
The congressional district where inequality is highest turns out to be New York’s 10th, with a Gini coefficient of .587; followed by Pennsylvania’s 2nd District, at .583; Illinois’ 7th District, at .574, and Florida’s 27th District at .562. Connecticut’s 4th District is next, at .561, followed by New York’s 12th District, Ohio’s 11th District, Georgia’s 8th District and New York’s 16th District. The most equal district is Virginia’s 11th, at .385.
"The big take-away," according to Bloomberg Businessweek: “A strikingly high level of inequality exists throughout the United States.” Also of note, 9 of the top 10 districts with the greatest income inequality are currently represented in Congress by Democrats, including Connecticut’s Jim Himes, Georgia’s John Lewis, Washington D.C.’s Eleanor Holmes Norton, and New York’s Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel.
Breaking down the state’s population into five segments, by income, Connecticut ranked 10th in the share of household income among the lowest income quintile, 5th in the second quintile, 4th in the third quintile, 5th in the fourth quintile at and 4th in the highest-income quintile.
The website takes the state-by-state comparison one step further, providing context by comparing the state data with data compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency, which tracks the Gini coefficient of 139 countries.
“What jumps out,” according to the website report on the data analysis, “is how lousy the United States looks. Our best district in terms of equality (VA-11) is only as good as Portugal, which sits at a pedestrian 71st on the CIA’s list, right in the middle of the pack. That means that the level of equality in every congressional district in America falls below the midpoint of the CIA’s 139-country ranking.”
“Even the best U.S. district has higher inequality than any number of countries you probably don’t associate with economic egalitarianism: Greece, Niger, Ethiopia, Egypt, Pakistan, Kosovo, Mongolia, Ukraine, Bangladesh. The most equal U.S. congressional district can’t compare with the national averages of New Zealand, France, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. Most districts in the U.S. (those ranked 39th through 429th) fall in a narrow Gini band between .4 and .499, putting them between Zimbabwe (20th on the CIA list) and the United Kingdom (60th).”
In 2013, a person living alone making less than $11,490 was classified as in poverty. The threshold increased by $4,020 for each additional household member.