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Colorado’s richer enclaves make it a leader in wealth disparity

Top four states in the nation for asset-income inequality among its residents are Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, study finds

Aldo Svaldi
The Denver Post

DENVER — When prospectors came to Colorado searching for gold and silver, a lucky few found their riches, while many others settled down and found jobs instead.

Old mining towns are again enclaves of wealth, not from their mines, but because they have the amenities and homes needed to attract rich outsiders. As a result, the Rocky Mountain region has the largest wealth gaps among its counties when measured in terms of the income earned from capital sources like stocks, bonds and property, according to a wealth distribution study by the Economic Innovation Group.

Colorado ranks second among U.S. states after Wyoming for the size of the gap among its counties in per capita asset income. Unlike income from wages or government payments, asset income derives from dividends, interest, rents and royalties. It is basically when an asset is making money, not a person making money. Right behind Wyoming and Colorado in terms of disparities are Utah and Idaho.



“The Mountain West is home to a number of extremely affluent enclaves,” said Kenan Fikri, research director at EIG and a co-author of the study. “As asset prices have ballooned in the U.S. economy over the last two economic cycles, that is driving some of these numbers in the most favored second home-destinations of the most affluent classes.”

In Pitkin County, home to Aspen, residents reported $98,500 in income from asset sources on a per capita basis in 2019. That ranked second highest in the country after Teton County in Wyoming, which came in at $161,400. Other Colorado counties high up there, out of the more than 3,000 counties in the U.S., are San Miguel, 14th nationally; Routt, 19th; Eagle at 25th; Mineral at 35th, Summit at 47th and Ouray at 48th.




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