Inequality For All, Across The States

As the nation counts down to several looming deadlines, all eyes are on Washington: October 1, by when Congress and the President must enact a bill to fund the federal government past the start of the new fiscal year, and October 17, by when the federal government must get new Congressional approval to avoid defaulting on the national debt. October 1 is also the date kicking off the six month open enrollment period for the new health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

In the states, elected leaders, policy experts, and businesses alike are closely watching the developments, not just because of the devastating local impacts of a shutdown or the catastrophic chaos of default, which experts fear could send the country back into a recession if not depression.

Coming on the heels of news of record high income inequality in the United States, we are facing policy outcomes that will either make it worse or make it less bad -- both within each state and across the states. According to newly released Census data, the difference between the incomes of the richest and the poorest states is already high, with Maryland's median household income ($71,122) being nearly double that of Mississippi ($37,095). 

Median Household Income in the Past 12 Months for the United States and Puerto Rico: 2012

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey

The states vary according to a measure of inequality in each one as well; here's a map showing the Gini coefficients of each state:

Gini Coefficient, 2012

Source: John Voorheis, via Wonkblog

Against that backdrop, the ongoing budget debate involves the sequester, better known for its deep cuts to education and jobs, as well as the Affordable Care Act and a slew of other policy issues like taxes and Medicare.

These are among the issues and concerns discussed during our special screening of Inequality For All, a new film narrated by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. In collaboration with the Roosevelt Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy, Progressive States Network was pleased to hold the sneak preview last night in Washington, D.C.

How will the states fare under any final deal -- and how will it impact the troubling trend of the richest few getting richer while everybody else's incomes stagnate? Progressive States Network will be on the case and reporting.