Income Showed Record Increase, But Not All Shared In The Gains
5, 2001-- A national economic slowdown may be under
way, but many Virginians have enjoyed recent steady advances in
their incomes, according to an analysis of state income tax data
by the University of Virginias Weldon Cooper Center for Public
1998, the most recent year for which figures are available, the
statewide median for adjusted gross income on married couples
tax returns was $50,849, according to the study by economists John
L. Knapp and Stephen C. Kulp. This represented a 5.8 percent gain
from the previous year, and a 4.2 percent gain after adjusting for
inflation, and set a new Virginia record for an increase in one
year. It was the fourth year of gains in real income for Virginians.
(The median is the income level at which half of those who filed
taxes received more and half received less.)
median incomes varied widely in localities across the state. And
there has been a disturbing widening of the gap between low and
high incomes, the economists said in the annual report, "Virginia
Adjusted Gross Income."
five localities with the highest median incomes for married couples
in 1998 were all located in Northern Virginia: Fairfax County ($77,173),
Loudoun County ($77,033), Falls Church city ($75,567), Arlington
County ($70,735) and Prince William County ($65,832).
of the five counties with the lowest median couples incomes
were in Southwest Virginia: Russell ($28,841), Dickinson ($27,509),
Buchanan ($27,503), and Lee ($25,856). Northampton County ($28,935)
on the Eastern Shore was the fifth lowest. In three out of 10 returns
in these localities married couples had income of less than $15,000,
below the poverty level for a family of four.
dominance of Northern Virginia is clear," Knapp and Kulp said,
noting that in 1998 the region accounted for almost $40 of every
$100 in state income. The Hampton Roads and Richmond areas, together
with Northern Virginia, accounted for 69 percent of the states
the five-year period from 1993 to 1998 the Charlottesville area
had the largest gain in income, with close to a 56 percent increase
in the median. But many regions of the state, including the Southwest
and Southside, grew quite slowly.
disturbingly, income inequality --- the gap between higher incomes
and lower ones -- continued to increase dramatically in Virginia,
the economists said. An index of income concentration that measures
inequality showed a large increase for the fourth consecutive year
and rose sharply from the previous year.
disparities and a booming stock market that benefited many upper-income
households have been among the factors widening the income divide.
Goochland County, a Richmond suburb, and the cities of Lexington
and Williamsburg had the highest concentrations of unequal incomes.
Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856