Asset income across American counties, from Teton County to South Dakota

A new report finds gaps in asset income across locations in the United States:

Photo by Andrew Jensen on Pexels.com

Wyoming’s Teton County, home to Jackson Hole, has the nation’s highest per-capita income from assets, according to a study by the Economic Innovation Group. The analysis found a sharp increase in geographic concentration of asset ownership over the past decades…

It’s soared in places like New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. Meanwhile, across Appalachia, the Deep South and much of the Midwest, it stagnated, representing a negligible source of income…

Nationwide, the county with the lowest asset income per capita is in South Dakota, home to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. At $2,800 per person, it’s one-third of the national average. Among the largest U.S. counties, the ones with the five lowest incomes from assets per capita are all mostly Hispanic or Black.

Only a minority of Americans holds assets beyond homes, cars and retirement savings. About 15% of households own stocks and 13% hold business equity or other residential property, according to Fed data.

First, the emphasis here on asset income is helpful compared to the more common analysis of incomes. While income may be related to assets, assets gets more at wealth or how income is converted into more long-lasting economic resources.

Second, that assets are concentrated in particular locations is not surprising but with the relatively limited number of Americans who have certain assets, this concentration is even more notable. The truly wealthy Americans have assets and utilize them in certain places, like New York City, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

With this said, how much does increasing incomes reduce the gap in wealth and assets? Or, how might efforts at local and national levels affect this gap both locally and nationally? The most exclusive locations are going to be difficult for many Americans to afford at any point, regardless of their income. While much sociological research has studied the concentration of poverty, wealth also concentrates with positive feedback loops for those who can participate.

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