Aug 16, 2023 - News

How much money you need to be among Tennessee's 1%

Minimum income needed to be in the top 1%<br> of earners
Data: SmartAsset; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

Tennessee's top 1% of earners make more than $548,000 — one of the lowest thresholds in the country to be considered among the richest in a state, according to a new SmartAsset analysis of IRS tax filer data.

  • That's more than $100,000 less than the national average of $653,000.

State of play: Southern states have some of the country's lowest income thresholds for their top 1%, but Tennessee comes in far above states like West Virginia, where the state's wealthiest hit a threshold of $367,582 or more.

  • We're just ahead of South Carolina, where the top 1% of incomes start at just over $508,000.

Zoom in: The median income in Tennessee is $58,516, per census data.

  • Williamson County has the highest median household income in Tennessee at $118,000, per The Sycamore Institute.
  • Sullivan County, in northeast Tennessee near the Virginia border, has the lowest with $48,000.

As of 2021, 13.6% of residents are below the poverty line. About 18% of Tennessee children live in poverty.

  • The share of the population in poverty has gone down in recent years but is still higher than the national level.

Zoom out: You have to be rich rich — making more than $952,902 — to be considered the 1% in Connecticut, where the income threshold is the highest of any state.

  • Washington, D.C., where people in the top 1% make more than $1 million, would take first place if it were a state.

The big picture: The top 1% of U.S. families held more than a third of the country's total wealth in 2019, up from 27% in 1989, the Congressional Budget Office reported last year.

  • Households in the bottom half of the distribution held only 2% of the country's wealth.

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