Friday, May 2, 2014

2010 Oneida County Retrospective: Income and Poverty (Part 1)

Income and Poverty in Oneida County 2010

Of the many measures of how well a community is doing economically, income and poverty are two of the most common indicators of economic health.

Income Measures: Income is generally measured in three ways within the census data: household income, family income, and per capita income. Each measures three very different things. Household data measures the cumulative income of all those people within a housing unit; family income reflects the income earned by a family unit’s members; and per capita income is the total cumulative income of a geographical area divided evenly by the total number of all the persons, regardless of age, living there.(Note: For purposes of this report, income levels for 2010 are based on the 2012 Five Year ACS data, using the 2010 year as a midpoint of this grouped data set).

As a general matter, median family income tends to be higher than median household income. In comparison, per capita income is lower than either family or household income. This is understandable given that every person is included in its calculation, including those not earning income such as children, the elderly, or the infirmed. According to the ACS 2012 Five Year Estimates, median household income was about $49,148 in Oneida County. Median family income, on the other hand, was $62,232. Per capita income was around $24,890.

Click to Enlarge
Family Income Quintiles: Income quintiles are another way to look at family income. They provide information about the lowest, as well as the highest, income brackets within Oneida County. Each grouping represents a fifth of the families in the county. Looking at the income ranges of each quintile provides insight into the income level needed for a family to move upward to a higher income group. For example, among those in the bottom quintile, a family would have to earn in excess of $28,662 to move from the “low” income class to a “lower-middle” income class. “Middle” income class families, in comparison in Oneida County, earn basically from $51,729 to as much as $84,729. Families in the middle class would need to earn close to $85,000 to move up a bracket. To be part of the upper most quintile, or “upper” income class, a family would have to earn in excess of $112,000. 

Poverty: Poverty is a concept that became officially embraced by the federal government in the mid-1960s as a means of determining persons in need of assistance. Since that time, the thresholds upon which poverty has been determined is updated annually to reflect changes in the cost of living. 

Click to Enlarge
Determining the threshold for an individual or family is based upon the make-up of the family – the number of adults plus the number of related children under the age of 18. So, for example, a four-person family comprised of two adults and two children had a poverty threshold of $22,113, based on 2009 income. In comparison, a single adult with two children only has a threshold of $17,568 in 2009.

Click to Enlarge
Poverty Among Persons: In Oneida County, almost one out of every six people are considered to be living in poverty. Nearly 33,400 of the almost 221,000 people in the county for who poverty has been determined (15%) are below the poverty threshold. Of those in 33,400 people in poverty, more than one in three (38%) are children under the age of 18. Children, however, are not the only ones obviously affected by poverty. It also has impacts on the elderly population. About one out of every ten people age 65 or older (9%) are in poverty in Oneida County according to the 2012 Five Year ACS Estimates.

Poverty Among Families: Looking at poverty among families, one out of every nine families (11%) in Oneida County lives in poverty. More than 6,200 families were determined to be living below the poverty threshold in the 2012 Five Year ACS Estimates. Of those, about 2,000 were married couple families; the remaining 4,200 were single-parent households.

Among all married couple families, only about 5% are living in poverty. In contrast, as many as 27% of single-parent families live below poverty. This tends to be the case more so for female-headed families than for male-headed ones. Among male-headed families (with no female present), about 15% of such family units live in poverty. Among female-headed families (with no male present), the rate is around 31%.

Click to Enlarge

Many of these families have children in them. As cited earlier, of all those living in poverty, more than one out of every three (38%) are children under the age of 18, and one in eight (13%) are under the age of 5. Looking more closely, more than four out of every five families living in poverty (85%) are comprised of adults with related children living in the household. Among single-parent families in poverty the number with children as part of the family unit is 90%. And in many cases, a large percentage of families have children under the age of 5 present in the home.