Wage Disparities in the U.S are a topic widely researched and discussed. The gender wage gap has often dominated headlines and social media, but it is not the only disparity to cause concern. Income inequality, or the gap between the rich and everyone else, has been growing significantly.
At a national level income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now makes an average of nine times more as the bottom 90 percent, according to inequality.org a website run by the Institute for Policy studies.
Concern over income inequality is not new. While the effect of disparity is debated, looking at the numbers provides an interesting glance at society both in the state of Nevada and nationally.
A new study (study no longer available) by Commercial Cafe looked at wage disparities in a different way; across occupations instead the usual household income. They looked at the gap between the highest and lowest earning professions in all 50 states and the top 50 major U.S. metro areas.
Nevada was found to be the 31st most unequal state in terms of wages, ranking one higher than New York, the city that is often defined as having the most income inequality. In Nevada, the wage disparity rate is 93%. Anesthesiologists, the highest-paid group, making $250,920 more than gaming dealers. The latter earn only $18,000 a year.
Alabama was found to have the worst wage disparity at state-level with a 94% gap between the highest-paid group and the lowest, with orthodontists making $289,740 and food preparation and service workers earning only $18,380 a year. In Florida, the second on the list, $269,130 separate oral and maxillofacial surgeons and ushers and crop sorters.
Healthcare practitioners are the winners in today’s labor market, having the highest wages in all of the 50 states. The high educational costs of these professionals, a lower chance of automation, institutional protection, and the high cost of medical care in America are some of the main factors that make these professions the highest earning, according to Commercial Cafe’s study.
An interesting disparity was found in the medical field, however. While medical doctors and some technical occupations in hospitals are among the highest-earning in the nation, their colleagues working in healthcare support are one of the lowest-paid professional categories, with an average salary of $31,310 a year.
A home health aide worker in the new York metropolitan area, earning a mean annual wage of $24,240 makes 88% less than a petroleum engineer, but just 9% more than shampooers, the lowest paid workers in this area.
The lowest paid workers are also the ones who see the least amount of wage growth in their career. According to the Economic Policy Institue wages in the United States, after taking inflation into account, have been stagnating for more than three decades. Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income of the top 1 percent of U.S. earners exploded by over 256 percent. The bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 21 percent increase from 1979 to 2015.
Emily Fisher can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.