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Report: Kenton Co. Has Highest Income Inequality in Kentucky

Kenton County tops the state when it comes to income inequality, according to a new report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. 

Income inequality in the Commonwealth has risen significantly in recent decades, with the latest data showing real income for the wealthiest 1 percent of Kentuckians going up by 60.1 percent between 1979 and 2013, while dropping 2.6 percent for everyone else, the organization reported on Thursday.

“Income inequality has been a growing problem in Kentucky and the nation since the late 1970s,” said Anna Baumann, policy analyst at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, in a news release. “It persists in relatively poor states like ours, both in big cities and small towns, pointing to the widespread problem that those at the top are disparately benefiting from growth in our economy.”

In Kenton County, the top 1 percent make 21.9 times more than everyone else. That landed the county, Kentucky's third most populous, on top of the list as most unequal. The average income for the top 1 percent of earners in Kenton County is $1.063 million while the average for the 99 percent of others is roughly $48,600. The lowest income in the top 1 percent in the county is more than $391,000.

Campbell County is Kentucky's 9th most unequal county, the report concluded. The top 1 percent of salaries average just over $825,000 with the lowest salary in the top 1 percent being more than $344,000. Everyone else in the county makes an average salary of $47,320, meaning the top 1 percent make 17.4 times more than everyone else.

Boone County is the most equal of the three counties most commonly referred to as Northern Kentucky. Boone ranked 74th out of 120 counties in terms of income inequality. The average salary of the top 1 percent in Boone is over $617,000. Everyone else earns an average of just over $58,000.

An interactive map showing all the counties can be found here.

Other findings from the report indicate that in the recovery from the Great Recession, the top 1 percent in Kentucky have captured 25 percent of all income growth. The average income for the top 1 percent statewide is $619,585, while everyone else averages a salary of $37,371.

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy argued in its release that income inequality could be fought by state and federal tax reform that changes the way tax breaks benefit the wealthy disproportionately. The minimum wage should also be raised, and union rights should be safeguarded, the organization stated.

“We have a choice – we can support policies that keep funneling economic growth to those at the top or we can enact policies that grow our middle class and restore the American dream,” said Baumann. “Given the need for tax reform in Kentucky, it’s especially important at this time that we differentiate the bad from the good…cutting income taxes and shifting to a consumption based system would worsen income inequality and leave us less to invest in our schools, our people, our communities.”

EPI’s report can be found here.

-Staff report