There is no question that we love living in Fairfield County, CT. Close to New York City yet with access to beaches, beautiful hiking trails and world class shopping, it is a great place to live. Connecticut has the highest per capita income of any state in the country at $36,775 and our median home prices hover 60% above the national average at $80,000. That is great news for anyone who is trying to sell a home in this real estate market.
Yet, just under the surface the picture is not so rosy.
Connecticut is home to the largest income gap in the country. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is staggering. The average income in the top ten percent of earners was $114,000 (2008 study) versus the bottom ten percent at $7,800. That is a14:1 ratio, an increase from a 10:1 ratio in the mid-1980’s! Governor Dannel Malloy recognized this imbalance and instituted a tax plan with a luxury goods tax and earned income tax credit.
However, income disparity is not the only troubling statistic in Connecticut. In an area with such a wide income gap, I would assume that there would be a high rate of volunteerism to help those less fortunate. This is not the case in Connecticut. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recently issued a report that stated that volunteerism in Connecticut had fallen. Just under one third of residents in Fairfield County volunteer and devote an average of 31 hours a year. That ranks Fairfield County 30th among the 125 municipal areas in the survey. Further, the state barely made it into the top third of residents who volunteer, and trailed Vermont and Maine in the Northeast.
As individuals we can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. If you can, help those in need by volunteering your time or donating to an organization. Ask your employer if they would consider instituting a volunteer program or offer pro-bono services to a nonprofit organization. There are many ways to give back.
Economic inequality is a hot button issue from the Occupy Wall Street movement to the 2012 Presidential campaign. Consider a new twist on the ‘Occupy’ movement and turn ‘Occupy Wall Street’ into ‘Occupy Volunteerism’. Let’s help all of our residents take advantage of the many aspects of Connecticut. Do Well By Doing Good.