Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

A Look at Median Household Income

The Census Bureau just released its 2011 American Community Survey (1-yr) data. It contains quite a bit of very interesting stuff, so I’ll spend a few posts taking a look at it.

First a brief plug. I run a data system called Telestrian that has a good chunk of this data and lets you query it and visualize it in next to no time. This is the system I use for almost all the data analysis, graphs, and maps in the blog. If you’re looking for a way to support the mission of the Urbanophile, and to make sure I can continue to do this, a great way is for your organization to buy Telestrian, which at a mere $49/year is so cheap it’s basically a no-brainer.

First, here’s a look at metro area median income. One feature Telestrian has it letting you have multiple color schemes on your maps based on a threshold value. In this case, I used the US average median household income (which is one of the built in values). So blue metro area above the US average median income while red metros are below it:

Here are the top ten large metro areas for median household income:


Rank Metro Area 2011
1 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 86,680
2 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 84,012
3 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 71,975
4 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH 69,455
5 Baltimore-Towson, MD 65,463
6 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 64,508
7 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 64,085
8 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 63,352
9 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA 62,322
10 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 59,477

Washington, DC remains the champion, even beating out the Bay Area.

Here’s the bottom ten:


Rank Metro Area 2011
1 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 43,832
2 New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA 44,004
3 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 45,393
4 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 45,407
5 Birmingham-Hoover, AL 45,635
6 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH 45,936
7 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 46,123
8 Oklahoma City, OK 47,023
9 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 47,081
10 Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 47,580

Here’s a map of median household income by state:

These maps speak for themselves. However, care should be taken in reading too much into them without further analysis. This is because these are unadjusted figures. Your actual standard of living depends both on what you make and on your cost of living. Many of the high income regions like the Boston have very high housing prices and so the actual story is worse than it appears. Joel Kotkin posted a list of income adjusted for cost of living that provides another view that should be considered.

3 Comments
Topics: Demographic Analysis, Economic Development

3 Responses to “A Look at Median Household Income”

  1. Alon Levy says:

    Joel Kotkin posted a list of income adjusted for cost of living for corporate executives and expatriates.

    Corrected.

  2. Quimbob says:

    Interesting that Alaska has such high income levels and is also one of the highest “receiver states”.

  3. costanza says:

    Alon, where can I find that list?

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