Chart of the Day: Median Household Income

Source: Commonwealth Institute

Here’s the latest data on median household income from the Census Bureau, courtesy of the Commonwealth Institute. Nothing much new here: Residents of the Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area make 50% or more than inhabitants of Virginia’s other metros, more than $90,000, just like they always have.

There is a well-defined second tier: Hampton Roads (Virginia Beach-Norfolk), Richmond, Charlottesville and Winchester. I haven’t looked into it, but my porky sense tells me  (if you don’t get the feeble joke, porky sense is Bacon’s analogy to spidey sense) that Charlottesville is on the rise. All those horse country gentry and handsomely paid University of Virginia administrators may be pulling up median incomes.

The smaller metros — Roanoke, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, Blacksburg, Staunton/Waynesboro — constitute a third income tier. And then there’s non-metro Virginia, which is not included in this chart, which I expect constitutes a fourth tier.

Overall, Virginians’ median income rose 1.8% last year. While incomes in the Old Dominion are relatively high — $68,100 statewide compared to the national median of $57,600 — the growth in income lagged the national average of 2.4%. Sequestration still haunts the commonwealth. Incomes in the Washington metro, only 1.5%, dragged down the state average. Once the highest-income metro in the United States, Washington now lags San Jose and San Francisco.

As an aside… the Commonwealth Institute notes that “communities of color” — African-Americans and Hispanics — tend to have much lower incomes on average, citing “structural barriers” such as poor schools, housing discrimination and employment discrimination. Given the fact that it was citing Census data on household income, the think tank appears to have missed an excellent opportunity to examine the contribution of household size and structure on income levels.

One of the biggest contributors to household income is the number of bread winners in the household. If African-American and Hispanic households are more likely than communities of pallor to consist of single-income households — as, in fact, they are — the breakdown of the family contributes in a direct and measurable way to reduced median household income.

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4 responses to “Chart of the Day: Median Household Income

  1. It would be interesting to see the chart with respect to ROVA with NOVA representation and influence removed.

    And isn’t it ironic that NoVA is the highest household income in Virginia and a significant percentage of the workforce in NoVa is government and contractors to the government and businesses that supply goods and services to the govt and govt contractors?

    In terms of the one person, two person household income. Is that a standard metric that is available?

    I’m not sure I actually agree with your claim to start with so how about backing it up with some data?

    Single parent families are not uncommon in NoVa.. we still have a substantial divorce rate – even among white folks.. right?

  2. Hi Jim, thanks for your thoughts on our post.

    To our knowledge, Census didn’t publish the breakout of household income by household composition and race/ethnicity in its 2016 tables that became available this week.

    Here’s that information based on 2015 data retrieved via IPUMS. This is median household income for married-couple households in Virginia in 2015.

    Married-couple households
    Median Household Income, 2015

    White, non-Hispanic
    $98,090

    Black, non-Hispanic
    $81,000

    Asian or Pacific Islander, Non-Hispanic
    $113,010

    Hispanic/Latinx
    $78,400

    So, as that data shows, major differences in income by race/ethnicity persist even if you only look at married-couple households.

    And even if that weren’t true, differences in household composition can themselves be the result of structural inequalities. For better or for worse, when men are unable to find decent, steady work, it impacts their “marriageability” and the stability of relationships.

    • Michael, Thanks for providing the data. Your point is well taken, differences persist even after accounting for family structure. If I have time, I’ll have to undertake the calculations to see how much this closes the earnings gap.

      By the way, thanks for responding so civilly, even considering the snide comment at the end of my post about “The Narrative.” That was unfair, and I’ll remove it from my post.

  3. I think when we tread into the “breakdown of the family for minorities” – we’ve gone beyond the data and into commentary.. and it’s not a nice look and it just detracts from the overall subject.

    re: ” For better or for worse, when men are unable to find decent, steady work, it impacts their “marriageability” and the stability of relationships.”

    Jim -you know this.. you should not need someone telling you this yet you persist in your beliefs that repeatedly ignore these fundamental realities?

    You know these things so what point are you trying to make when you say:

    ” One of the biggest contributors to household income is the number of bread winners in the household. If African-American and Hispanic households are more likely than communities of pallor to consist of single-income households — as, in fact, they are — the breakdown of the family contributes in a direct and measurable way to reduced median household income.”

    you get breakdown of families when neither parent has an education needed to compete for better paying jobs and TANF , housing assistance, etc are qualified – based on single parents with kids and exclude “able-bodied”… and married.

    The regulations virtually require the Mom to be single in order to get help.

    I suspect you do know these things..

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