Vermont's growing wealth gap

I was unable to find a statistic for Vermont's Wealth Gap, but you can see why the stat, even if located, wouldn't reveal too much. You have to look at other indicators.

One indicator for high household net worth is second-home ownership.

Vermont is second in that category, behind only Maine, the U.S. Census Bureau reports.

Nationally, 3.1 percent of the housing stock are second-homes; in Vermont, it's 14.6 percent.

Another Vermont indicator is the median home value: in 2006, it was $193,000, well above the national average of $186,000, while monthly owner costs including mortgage were at $1,342, well below the national average of $1,402. Unmortgaged houses were lived in more lavishly: $525 per month in Vermont, $399 US average.

Beyond such modest markers there isn't much, and won't be until the federal bean-counters publish a new set of relative income and wealth categories from the 2010 Census.

The usual median-income stats for personal ($34,623) and disposable ($30,765) put Vermont midway among the states at no. 24. Percent below the poverty line is 10.3 percent, not far from the national average of 13.3 percent.

Vermont is no. 1 of all states for acute-care Medicaid spending, but no. 51 for long-term-care Medicaid spending, explicable under a two-tier demographic-split theory where, because of a shrinking middle class, more of the total population than average is at the two extremes, poverty (needing more Medicaid emergency-room aid) and wealth (needing less nursing-home subsidy).

The two-tier theory isn't new and didn't originate with this column: its earliest advocate, to my knowledge, was one Frederick Jagels of Cabot, Vt., who opined in print on the subject back in the 1980s-a time was well before middle-class out migration had become noticeable. Now, a quarter-century later, a relatively small out migration (about 600 in 2006, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council reports) gives rise to much theorizing about middle-class shrinkage.

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