California is a leader … in income inequality.
So says a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C. In “The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011,” authors Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price estimate that California is one of 17 states where the “top 1 percent captured more than 100 percent of the overall increase in income” from 2009 to 2011.
What drives this trend? In part, the same thing that’s occurring around the rest of the nation. “Unionization and collective bargaining levels are at historic lows not seen since before 1928,” while corporate CEOs get taxpayer bonuses “after bankrupting their companies,” the report states.
According to the authors, there’s also a correlation between California’s information-technology industry and lopsided income growth. Along with tech-friendly Massachusetts and Washington, California was home to one of the biggest income-inequality jumps in the nation between 1979 and 2007.