Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Income inequality has grown to its highest level since the U.S. government began tracking data more than 50 years ago, the Census Bureau said in an annual report Thursday.
The Gini Index measures income equality, with zero representing perfect equality and 1 indicating inequality. In 2018, the index had a score of 0.49 -- up slightly from 2017, the bureau said.
Income inequality increased in nine states -- Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia -- but most states showed no statistical change.
Some states have raised the minimum wage while others haven't, a fact that could contribute to overall inequality.
Areas that showed the most income inequality last year were New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. -- while Alaska, Iowa, North and South Dakota and Utah showed the most equality.
Thursday's report also showed the poverty rate declined in 14 states and Puerto Rico. In many cases, the report said, wages in some trades have not caught up with others that pay more.
The real median household income last year increased by 0.8 percent to $61,937, the highest in history.
Some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates -- like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren -- have made economic inequality a staple of their campaigns.