Home > Economy > Humboldt County tops for income inequality in California

Humboldt County tops for income inequality in California

[From the Sac Bee]:

The Census Bureau used data from the American Community Survey to calculate income disparities for every one of the nation’s counties, using a “Gini index” of zero (perfect equality, in which all households have precisely the same incomes) to one (perfect inequality, in which just one household has any income).

The index does not measure income itself, but rather its distribution within the population. Thus a very high income county or a very poor one could both have low levels of inequality if most of their populations were in similar economic circumstances, or equally high levels if they have broad spectra of incomes.

Overall, the nation’s inequality index stands at .467, and since 1967, it has risen by 18 percent, although “more recently, the growth in income inequality has tapered off,” the Census Bureau says.

The indices of California’s 58 counties are all over the map, with very low levels of inequality in a few mountain counties, but relatively high ones in Los Angeles (.489), the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Barbara County, Humboldt County and Imperial County, which is by far the state’s poorest in terms of income. The rest of the state falls into the middle quintiles of inequality.

The report: http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/acsbr10-18.pdf

  1. Greed Is Good
    March 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I am sure Mr. High Finance will explain how we are lazier than the rest of the state. After all, it is easier to believe 150 million Americans are lazy than it is to believe that 400 American families are greedy. In a near perfect world, 150 million Americans would be greedy and successful (like Hi Fi) and 400 American families would be lazy.

  2. tra
    March 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I have to wonder whether the data may be skewed due to income that is not reported because it is part of the underground economy. I’m not sure whether, if you were somehow able to take all of that income into account, that would increase or decrease the level of income inequality in Humboldt County. I suspect it would be the latter, but of course I am not sure.

    On the one hand, there must be quite a few extremely wealthy growers who have large amounts of unreported income, but on the other hand, I suspect there might be even more unreported income in the hands of smaller growers, folks who “supplement” their income with a modest-sized grow, and of course many moderate-income and lowe-income people who have unreported income from working as trimmers or as other kinds of support workers who are paid in cash by the growers.

  3. March 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I thought otherwise,
    one billionaire in the mix-
    would skew the results.

  4. March 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Another factor are gas prices in Humboldt that are consistently much higher than the rest of California.

    That extra x cents a gallon is a de facto regressive tax applied to the population, it is a regressive (flat rate) tax paid to the monopoly oil refiners not the government.

    Regressive taxation schemes always distort the free market economy and cause the poor to become incrementally poorer and the rich (relatively) richer. An $80 tank of gas means much different things to a millionaire and a working person.

    have a peaceful day,

  5. jr
    March 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    It is interesting that Imperial, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties are shaded the same deep blue as Humboldt. Could that be the extremes in wealth distribution in these counties; Santa Barbara County has Montecito and Goleta. Los Angeles County has Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, et.al and the poorer Valley towns, Imperial County has the wealth farmers and the immigrant laborers. And Humboldt has fairly well off retirees and those who earn the minimum wage.

  6. 713
    March 14, 2012 at 9:20 pm


    I think this explains it. 250 lbs of weed and qualified for a reduced rate on the electic bill. Definitely have some skewed numbers up here.

  7. Labtech
    March 14, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    “Bill” wants you to believe that an oil company has the power to levy a tax on the public.

  8. Harold Knight
    March 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Labtech want us to believe that Wall Street doesn’t dead-end at Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Gasoline would be $15/Gal, without public subsidies.

    God forbid that Joe The Plumber would find many facts in the “free press”.

  9. 69er
    March 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I am amazed that of all the speculation as to why no one has mentioned all of the people that are lured here due to all of the hand outs to those who choose to live as part of the so-called homeless.Add them to all the students who have none or modest incomes to that list and it would possibly skew the results far more than “one” millionaire.

  10. splint
    March 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    You can say what you want to about the homeless, Murl, but please stop slicing up their tents (homes) in the middle of the night like a stinking armed terrorist gangster.

  11. High Finance
    March 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    As I have said many times before 3.35pm, everybody is greedy. The only difference is your expectations.

    That goes for the poorest welfare recepient, a homeless person or the darling of the left Warren Buffet.

    Gas would be 60 cents a gallon cheaper if it wasn’t for government taxes.

  12. Fact Checker
    March 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Fi said: “As I have said many times before 3.35pm, everybody is greedy.”

    Um, you really don’t believe everything you say, do you?

  13. 69er
    March 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    My name is not Murl, but I back him 100% in his endeavors to keep the peace in a town of the likes of you Splint. I doubt if there is even the slimmest chance of getting any official that would satisfy your ilk.

  14. tra
    March 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Fi said: “Gas would be 60 cents a gallon cheaper if it wasn’t for government taxes”

    Well it depends on the state. But, yeah I bet it’s at least 60 cents of the prive in California, if not more.

    At the same time, you’d have to be a fool not to notice that we cough up many many billions in military expenditures, and expend a lot of foreign policy effort to safeguard friendly governments of key oil-exporting countries, and overthrow unfriendly ones.

    All in all, if we eliminated all the taxes on gas, and also eliminated all military spending and efforts aimed at maintaining access to oil, the price of gas would probably go up sharply, as supply tightened, and/or less pliable regimes hiked their prices.

  15. March 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    “Bill” actually wants you to believe that monopolistic price gouging has the same marginal effect (drag) on economies as governmental taxation.

    The big difference is of course that presumably we get something for our money when the government spends it. I know that is far from a perfect scenario these days. But any money sent into the hands of the monopolies is lost to our local economy forever. We might as well burn our money.

    have a peaceful day,

  16. Robert Cratchet
    March 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    “…everybody is greedy. The only difference is your expectations.”

    The best reason yet for higher taxes and strictly enforced Wall Street regulations. Or, we could return to the high expectations of royalty….few Americans toiling full-time in poverty would notice.

  17. chip
    March 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Everything is relative. If i make $25k/year and 100 other folks are on gov’t handouts and make $0 … well…perhaps it’s the fact that there are so many people who live in HumCo who are on assistance?

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