Friday May 11, 201202:52 PM GMT
Florida has highest rate of income gap among swing states
Fri May 11, 2012 2:51PM
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Florida has the highest rates of wealth disparity among the swing states that will decide November's U.S. presidential election, with a level of 0.471 on the Gini index against a national average of 0.467.


The index is used by the U.S. Census Bureau to measure income, with a level of 0 indicating maximum equality and 1 indicating maximum inequality. The state is followed by North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia, with Ohio further behind with a Gini index of 0.450.


In Palm Beach county, the level of disparity is even more apparent, with a Gini index of 0.505. The town of Palm Beach - with its fancy boutiques, high-end restaurants and clubs and ocean-front mansions concealed by huge hedges - has a median household income of $110,000.


But just a half-hour drive west through some of the U.S.'s largest sugar farms are some of the country's most destitute communities. Belle Glade, for instance, has a median household income of just $28,000. Amid rampant rural poverty and crime, the biggest hope for many of the residents of "muck city" - a reference to sugarcane soil - is found in religious faith or finding a way in to a professional American football team.


If President Obama's push for higher taxes on the wealthy is to resonate anywhere in America it will probably be amid such contrasts - and Democrats on the ground believe they are succeeding.




The contrasting economic fortunes in Palm Beach county - and across south Florida - make it the epicenter of the political battle over income distribution in America. It is also a testing ground for Obama's message of economic fairness through higher taxation on the rich, which is at the heart of his re-election campaign. FT


While economic pain has become common and more visible across the U.S. amid a sluggish recovery, Boca, Florida is still an unexpected location for scenes of poverty. FT


The recession ended nearly three years ago but the number of hungry people flooding through the doors of food banks continues to swell, says Jim Gavrilos, the executive director of Boca Helping Hands, a food bank in Boca, Florida. FT


Meanwhile, Boca Raton is also a warm weather residence for wealthy sport stars, musicians and corporate executives, from Donald Trump to Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. Roughly 20 miles up the coast is Palm Beach Island, the site of John F. Kennedy's winter White House and a sunny second home for at least 24 of America's 400 top billionaires, from David Koch to Steve Schwarzman and Henry Kravis. FT


CEO pay in the U.S. in 2010 was 325 times what workers averaged, according to the annual survey “Executive Excess,” published by the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington- based research group critical of high executive pay. Bloomberg



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