NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - There will always be the haves and have nots, but widespread inequality can lead to serious issues.
According to recent data, Nacogdoches County is ranked third in the nation for being the most unequal county in America.
The US Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey, released last week, provides data for all kinds of lists.
Nacogdoches County just so happened to end up on a list of 20 counties with the highest inequality in America. The third in the nation ranking is derived by a statistical measure of the gap between the rich and the poor.
We presented the findings to Dr. Stephen Cooper, an associate professor of social work at Stephen F. Austin State University. He said he's aware of the margin for error.
"None the less, it's pretty surprising," Cooper said. "I mean it speaks to there is a gap, and if you think about the number of people you would need on the lower income scale to offset that upper income, there should be some concern."
Greater East Texas Community Action Director Karen Swenson doesn't really need a list to illustrate inequality. In her job, she sees it every day.
"At Community Action, as well as with our social service partners, we do see a lot of folks who are looking for work and they have to look for a long, long time," Swenson said. "We also see a lot of working poor. People who are indeed working, but they're not making enough to make ends meet."
The evidence includes the salaries paid in Nacogdoches County.
"When you look at those results for Nacogdoches County, it's 36.2 percent of the population in 16 and over whose wage earnings fall below $24,999 a year," Cooper said.
It speaks for the gap of the haves and the have nots. It tells Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Ed Pool there's still a lot of work to be done.
"Oh always," Pool said. "There are things that need to be rectified and corrected, improved, but that's why we do what we do. Take it one step at a time. It's not going to happen overnight."
The numbers can be skewed. The ranking can debated. The inequality issue remains a fact nationwide.
You can find the inequality data and other comparative statistics from the American Community Survey at this link.