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Study: Income Inequality Continues To Grow In La.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) â¿¿ The gap between Louisiana's rich and poor has grown wider over the last three decades, with the poverty-ridden state having among the highest rates of income inequality in the nation, according to a new study released Thursday.

The richest 5 percent of households in Louisiana have average incomes more than 14 times larger than the bottom 20 percent of households, according to data from two Washington, D.C.-based think tanks, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute.

The groups advocate for low- to moderate-income families.

Louisiana has the sixth-widest gap in the country. States with higher income disparity, the study says, are New Mexico, Arizona, California, Georgia and New York.

Average household income for the poorest 20 percent of households in Louisiana grew less than 10 percent since the 1970s, compared to 62 percent for the richest 20 percent in the state, according to the report.

Jan Moller leads the Louisiana Budget Project, the state arm of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He says he hopes the report is a "wake-up call to legislators and policymakers" as Gov. Bobby Jindal intends to push a revamp of Louisiana's tax code in the next regular legislative session.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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