Study: Income Gap Widening In Colorado

    There is a growing national income disparity separating poor and middle-income families from more affluent ones, according to a new report, and Colorado is no exception.According to a recent study (PDF) from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit think-tank that provides economic research and analysis, the richest fifth of families in Colorado saw an average income growth that was nearly 10 times that of the poorest fifth in the state since the late 1980s.

    The state ranked in the middle regarding income disparity across the nation. Data in the report shows that Colorado’s growth in income inequality is the 27th largest in the nation and the state has the 24th-highest disparity gap between the richest and poorest in the nation. The gap between Colorado’s richest families and families in the middle was reported to be 21st in the nation.

    Other findings showed that 20 percent of the richest families in Colorado have average incomes that are approximately seven times larger than the poorest 20 percent, increasing from 5.9 times in the late 1980s. The richest average incomes were 2.5 times larger than the middle 20 percent of families, up from 2.0 times over the same period.

    Nationally the report shows that a longstanding trend of growing income inequality has accelerated since the late 1990s because incomes fell for poor families and stagnated for middle-income families in a number of states.

    In March the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a local organization connected to the national budget center, also released a 78-page report detailing what it cost to be self-sufficient in Colorado, without private and public support.

    Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at

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