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Income Inequality in Arizona

The income gap between Arizona’s richest and poorest households is the 2nd widest in the nation, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute. As of the late 2000s (2008-2010, the most recent data available), a snapshot of household income shows a troubling picture. The average income of the richest fifth of Arizona households was 10 times greater than that of the poorest and 3 times that of middle income households.

Income inequality threatens Arizona’s ability to create the workforce we need to compete in tomorrow’s economy. Falling incomes make it harder for poor parents to move their families up the economic ladder. And low family income adds huge challenges to educational success.

As Arizona policymakers prepare for the new year, they should focus on policies that narrow rather than widen income inequality to help Arizona recover from the downturn and grow our economy for the future. Recommendations include:

  • Invest in affordable quality child care.
  • Improve the tax system so that low-income families don’t pay more than their fair share.  
  • Improve the unemployment insurance system so that Arizonans don’t fall into poverty while they are looking for new jobs. 
  • Strengthen K- 12 education so that every young Arizonan has a shot at the American dream.

The joint CBPP/EPI report, as well as a press release and state fact sheets, are available here.

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