Wealth inequality in US reached highest level in over 50 years, Census says

The gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S. climbed last year to the highest level in more than 50 years, according to new data released by the Census Bureau.

Income inequality in the U.S. expanded significantly from 2017 to 2018, led by a number of coastal states, including Florida, New York, California and Connecticut, the figures revealed.

The Gini index, which measures income inequality, is on a scale of 0 to 1, with a measure of 0 indicating perfect equality, where every household controls the same amount of wealth, while a score of 1 indicates perfect inequality, meaning one household controls all of the income and the rest have none.

It’s been rising steadily over the past few decades.

Last year, the Gini index rose to 0.485, compared to 0.482 in 2017, according to the bureau’s one-year American Community Survey

The news comes on the heels of a new policy proposal from independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who unveiled a sweeping wealth tax plan earlier this week that would, over the course of 15 years, halve the wealth of billionaires in the U.S. The Democratic presidential candidate vowed to implement new tax brackets on the ultra-rich, from a 1 percent tax imposed on married couples with $32 million to an 8 percent tax on those with more than $10 billion.

“There is no justice when three billionaires are able to own more wealth than the bottom half of the entire country,” Sanders said in a tweet.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren has likewise hinged her presidential bid on a wealth tax, which she first introduced in January. Under her plan, individuals with $50 million would pay a 2 percent tax. That would increase to 3 percent for individuals with more than $1 billion.