Income Inequality Is Hurting Arkansas, According To New Report

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The gap between the rich and poor in Arkansas is growing. A new report by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) says increasing inequality in Arkansas is holding back economic growth, damaging the democratic process, and keeping many low-income and minority families stuck in poverty. But it’s a problem that has solutions, the group says.


According to the report, “Income Inequality is Hurting Arkansas,” the growing gap between the income of the wealthy and the poor in Arkansas is bad for economic growth.

• The top five percent of Arkansas earners make ten times as much as the bottom 20 percent of households.
• From the late 1970s to the late 2000s, the most well-off Arkansans saw their incomes grow almost twice as fast as the poorest.
• The typical Arkansan’s income has stagnated; in 2012 the median family income was only about five cents an hour above recession levels.

“If low- and middle-income families aren’t making enough money to spend on goods and services, the economy slows down as a result,” says Rich Huddleston, executive director of AACF. “What we’re seeing is huge gains for those who are already pretty wealthy while low-income families are seeing their incomes slowly inch up or even stagnate. And a lot of this is the result of policy decisions. Capital gains tax cuts, like those passed last session, favor wealthy Arkansans.”

Eleanor Wheeler, senior policy analyst at AACF and author of the report, says inequality will always exist to some degree.

“It becomes an issue when we reach a level so extreme that poorer families don’t earn enough to put food on the table,” Wheeler says. “The low- and middle-income earners in Arkansas whose pay has leveled off are the same people who make purchases that drive the economy. Making sure those near the bottom have enough to spend on goods and services will benefit the economy and contribute to shared prosperity for Arkansans.”

Read the rest of the story on affiliate station’s website KTHV – Channel 11 by clicking here.


  • arnold fudpucker

    While some of the really high incomes are outrageous that is not the reason others have low incomes. Not all high income earners are high achievers either. Many are born lucky, like athletes or inheritance, or just know the right folks. Many highly paid people are in state or federal jobs, school administration, coaches and such where ability has little to do with pay. It would be nice to see these high income folks paired down some but that isn’t going to change things for the low income folks one bit.

  • Mike Boatman

    This whole conversation is childish, crying because someone else has more than you. Your government is to blame for policies that keep the poor at the bottom of the heap. Your ‘president’ has put policies in place that wipes out jobs for the very poor. Taking money away from those who have worked hard all their lives and giving the money to the poor to buy votes for obama’s party will make the poor yet poorer and will give the job creating wealthy incentive to either make his money inactive or to leave taking his money with him. The Pilgrims learned in the 1600s that socialism does not work and can not be made to work

  • Sarah 1

    Mr. Boatman: What policies have been put in place to keep the poor at the bottom of the heap? What jobs has the president taken away? Typing a paragraph does not make it so without proof. Proof comes not from blog sites but from the CBO or other government agencies.

    In the early sixties you would have been taxed at ninety per cent.
    History tells us that was a period of significant growth and many job opportunities at that time. Your conclusion is in error. Study at the library to get real facts rather than reciting television reporting.

    • Mike Boatman

      Thank you for your reply. No, I did not pay taxes at 90% in the ’60s. In 1960, only the first $4,800 of income was taxed and at a rate of just three percent. My eternal gratitude to Lyndon Johnson for allowing me to visit a place I would never have thought of visiting, Vietnam, I was lavished with $99.37 a month on top of that privilege.
      You missed the higher rate, it was 1945, the top bracket hit 94%. This was on anyone making more than $200,000.
      Historically economies boom at the successful end of a war when the nations industries are fat with resources and converting their expertise to the civilian markets. Suggesting high taxes contributed to a booming economy is overlooking the war’s contribution to our post war expansion.
      You obviously keep abreast of current events so there is no need for me to use up bandwidth explaining how obama’s ACA, EPA and IRS are damaging job growth.
      You were quick to use your sharp tongue, I suggest you take your own, very wise advice.

  • Aj

    The argument is not about crying because people making more than the other, its about figuring out ways to close the gap between rich and poor. Arkansas is the perfect example of a state divide into two. The Poor of the Eastern side of the state, and the well off on the western side. Arkansas has been moving forward very well as of late, and keeping our poor above the rest of the countries, in given them the aid they need, to keep our state moving. This keeps unions out the state, which could effect job growth. Arkansas is on the rise, so playing the balancing act is important. Protecting minories and the poor is key to our states future..

  • Sarah 1

    Aj you are correct in a manner of speaking. I will assert there are extremely poor citizens on the western side as well. January one the very poor received health care and today it was ripped from them by our Republican house members. Please remember this in the November elections. Clean the house.

    My idea would be a CCC type job opportunity to give a working man a salary. Our infrastructure needs repairs and men could do it as well as women. Equal pay of course,

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