The Difference a Day Makes
In attempting to match the Crowley/Poverty Institute/ITEP argument, I didn’t include 2005 data (in part, ahem, because its availability didn’t register in my whirlwind round of data collection). I’ve modified the charts in the previous post so that the scales match. The thing to note is how much more the columns grew for Massachusetts and Connecticut, even though it remains the case that this category of taxpayers increased “at a greater rate” in Rhode Island.
The same is true, here:
And when it comes to average adjusted gross income, Rhode Island compares even less favorably, now:
The reason that I returned to this information so soon was that commenter Chalkdust stated in the related comment thread that it is misleading of me “because it makes it appear as though the proportion or Rhode Islanders earning more than $200K is increasing at a slower rate than MA or CT, when the opposite is true.” I argued that it’s easier to almost double 1% than 2% and that wealthy people don’t grow like spores; they’re made (if only self-made) or imported. The race, if we want to see it as such, is more a matter of increments, and if MA starts one step ahead of RI and, over a period of time, takes one and a half steps, while RI takes less than one step, that isn’t evidence that RI is moving more quickly.
To illustrate the point, consider the following line chart:
Rhode Island hardly looks as if it is catching up to its neighbors in this respect, especially when it is considered that the average AGI for this income group actually declined 6.7% from 1997 in RI, while increasing 5.6% in MA and 9.9% in CT. The combined result is that the total AGI of this group actually grew more in Massachusetts than in Rhode Island, and Connecticut wasn’t as far “behind” as it appears by other measures. (One has to laugh at the numbers game, when a state with a total AGI for the wealthy group nine-and-a-half times the size of the corresponding AGI in Rhode Island is somehow behind.)
Moreover, Rhode Island’s total tax returns increased at almost twice the rate as in Mass. and Connecticut (8.34% for RI, 4.20% for MA, and 4.99% for CT), which makes it less compelling to note that its wealthy population grew only 1.19 times that of Massachusetts and 1.57 that of Connecticut.
The real story of this round of charts, though, comes from the tax returns of those making between $75,000 and $200,000 per year:
If poverty ratio trends in the 2005–2006 U.S. Census data carry through to IRS data sets, Rhode Island’s red line is about to turn south among what might be termed as the state’s productive class — 17% of the population that paid 34% of the income tax liability in 2005 and likely accounted for an even larger share of the sweat and ingenuity behind our economy.