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Where the middle class is most unequal

CNNMoney looks at the five states with the biggest differences in middle class incomes.


median income kentucky

Oldham County, which has the highest median income in Kentucky, lies near Louisville, the state's largest city. A mix of farmland, small towns and bedroom suburbs, Oldham sits on the Ohio River and is on an interstate highway, making it easy for residents and companies to get around.

Many Oldham residents work in white-collar jobs in finance, insurance and real estate firms in Louisville. Some 92% have at least a high school degree and 39% have at least a bachelor's, higher than the state average. Unemployment stands at 6.3%, lower than the state's 7.4% rate, while only 6.7% are in poverty, far lower than the 19.3% state rate.

Clay, meanwhile, lies deep in the mountains in southeastern Kentucky. It's among the poorest counties in the nation, with a poverty rate of 42%, said James Ziliak, director of the University of Kentucky's Center for Poverty Research.

Its economic foundation was coal, which peaked in the mid-1900s. Now, jobs are hard to come by. The unemployment rate is 12%.

The New York Times recently declared Clay the hardest place in America to live, citing its high unemployment and poverty rates, low education levels and high obesity rates.

Data is from the U.S. Census Bureau's 3-year American Community Survey. It includes counties with more than 20,000 residents, and covers 2010-2012. Estimates are in 2013 dollars.
  @Luhby - Last updated September 15 2014 04:47 PM ET

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