Income Gap Narrowing In Tennessee

Knoxville — A report by two Washington, D.C. think tanks says the income gap in Tennessee is getting smaller.

The report says the wealthiest 20 percent of Tennesseans earned nine times the income of the poorest 20 percent in the late 1990s. That’s down from the late 1980s, when the poorest Tennesseans made ten times less that the wealthiest Tennesseans.

“One of the reasons for the narrowing of the gap is that the economy has been so good that job opportunities for low-income individuals are quite good in Tennessee,” University of Tennessee economist Dr. Bill Fox said. “That’s helped bring salaries up and provide jobs.”

Fox said another factor in the shrinking of the income gap is that earnings for the wealthiest 20 percent of state residents have not risen as fast.

According to the national report, Tennessee is one of three states that have not seen the income gap widen in the last ten years.