Olathe, Overland Park rate among the best for “income equality”

03/11/2014 12:00 AM

03/11/2014 6:15 PM

The widening income gap between the richest and poorest in the United States has been a hot economic and political topic for many months.

But what about income equality?

A new study released this month by the Nerd Wallet website sheds some encouraging light on that topic. Nerd Wallet put 300 U.S. cities or census-designated areas — with populations of at least 100,000 — under the microscope to determine which ones had the narrowest gap between its highest earning citizens and its lowest.

Two Johnson County cities — Olathe and Overland Park — scored favorably in the survey, ranking 13th and 45th respectively among cities with the most income equality.

Here’s the formula: Nerd Wallet created an income-equality ratio, which measured the mean income of the highest-earning 20 percent of households in each city to the mean income of the lowest-earning 20 percent. The lower the ratio, according to Nerd Wallet’s formula, the more equal the community.

The nationwide income ratio benchmark was 15.97, meaning the average household in the country’s highest-earning bracket group took in nearly 16 times as much as the average household in the lowest-earning group.

Olathe’s income equality ratio was 8.87. The mean income of the lowest-earning 20 percent was $20,023, while the mean income of the highest 20 percent was $177,638.

In Overland Park, the income ratio was recorded at 10.72. That was based on the lowest-earning 20 percent at $20,653, versus $221,498 for the highest-earnings 20 percent.

The community with the best income equality data was West Jordan, Utah, which generated an income equality ratio of 6.67. It was followed by Thornton, Colo., at 7.19, and Surprise, Ariz., at 7.30.

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