in Family Income, Poverty, Upstate New York, Upstate Urban Neighborhoods

Income Divisions in Upstate Metropolitan Neighborhoods

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In earlier posts, I wrote about income and racial separation between the residents of upstate cities and suburbs.  The data showed that residents of upstate cities saw sharp increases in poverty levels between 2000 and 2013, while city populations became increasingly diverse, primarily because of the loss of white residents.  The data also showed that minority group members living in cities had median incomes that were less than half of those of white residents living in suburban areas.

Income and racial residential patterns can be viewed through a different lens – one which focusses on the differences between residents of neighborhoods, not cities and suburbs.  While my earlier study examined differences between residents of seven upstate cities (Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse, Troy and Utica, and their suburbs, this study reviews the differences in economic characteristics of residents living in approximately 800 neighborhoods within the counties where the upstate cities are located.  The data comes from the United States Census Bureau which divides the nation into census tracts, the most detailed level publically tabulated. Overall, there are 73,000 census tracts nationally, averaging 4,200 residents each.

The data shows that while there are significant differences in concentrations of incomes, unemployment and poverty among upstate urban neighborhoods, but that income differences are not strong enough to characterize most of these neighborhoods as truly segregated by income.

Income Divisions – Neighborhood Types

Low Income Census Tracts

Upstate Metropolitan Census Tracts – 2014
Sorted by Percentage of Low Income Households
High Concentration Census Tracts Average Concentration Census Tracts Low Concentration Census Tracts
  30% of all Low Income Households 40% of all Low Income Households 30% of all Low Income Households
 
Low Income Households 66.4% 39.9% 20.9%
Medium Income Households 29.1% 47.2% 49.3%
High Income Households 4.5% 12.9% 29.8%
Low Income Households  123,900  166,461  125,022
Total Households  185,296  417,704  598,295
% Black Residents 40.8% 12.1% 3.0%
%Hispanic Residents 14.3% 5.6% 2.7%
%White White Residents 35.8% 76.4% 90.0%
Mean Household Income $34,938 $57,855 $89,876
% Unemployment 16.9% 8.2% 5.5%
% Poverty 37.2% 11.7% 3.7%

This section looks at low income households in neighborhoods (census tracts) that had median neighborhood incomes that were less than 67% of the national household median ($53,000 in 2014).  The average household income in these neighborhoods was  $34,398 – less than twice the poverty level for a family of three.

Neighborhoods with high concentrations of low income people have higher percentages of residents who identify as black/African American than White (not Hispanic) – 41% vs. 36%.   Overall, 77% of residents of upstate metropolitan neighborhoods were white in 2014, and 12% black. Blacks are more than three times as likely to live in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low income residents as their overall population, while whites are half as likely to live in poor neighborhoods as their population averages in upstate urban counties.

Residents of neighborhoods with high concentrations of low income residents had much greater chances (17%) in 2014 of being unemployed than the average (5.5%) for all members of the workforce in upstate metropolitan census tracts.

Finally, the likelihood that residents of neighborhoods with high concentrations with low incomes lived in poverty (37%) was much higher than it was for all upstate metropolitan residents (14%).

Chart 1.

low med hi income

Chart 1 shows the distribution of low income households compared with middle and high income households.  The chart shows that half of low income households live in neighborhoods where low income residents constitute 40% or more of all residents.   Forty percent of low income residents live in neighborhoods where they are a majority of all households.

However, most low income households are located in neighborhoods where there are significant numbers of middle and high income households.  Only about 15% of low income households are located in census tracts where middle income households are less than 30% of the total.

High Income Census Tracts

Upstate Metropolitan Census Tracts – 2014
Sorted by Percentage of High Income Residents
High Concentration Census Tracts Average Concentration Census Tracts Low Concentration Ceusus Tracts
  30% of  all High Income Households 40% of all High Income Households  30% of High Income Households
 
High Income Households 43.4% 27.5% 10.6%
Medium Income Households 42.1% 48.9% 44.4%
Low Income Households 14.5% 23.6% 45.0%
High Income Households 71890 96128 72361
All Households 165451 349901 685943
%Black 2.3% 3.2% 19.3%
%Hispanic 2.2% 2.9% 7,8%
%White 90.1% 89.7% 66.5%
Mean Household Income $117,693 $83,309 $52,016
% Unemployment 4.7% 5.6% 10.1%
% Poverty 2.4% 4.6% 17.3%

Residents of typical neighborhoods with high concentrations of high income households (households with incomes of more than twice the median), would most likely live in a neighborhood with almost as many middle income households as high income households (43% high income vs. 42% middle income).  Also, almost 15% of the households in these neighborhoods have low incomes (less than 67% of the median income).  So, in upstate New York, households with high incomes are less separated from other households than those who live in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low income households.

Ninety percent of the residents of a typical upstate metropolitan neighborhood with a high concentration of high income households are white, compared with 77% of all upstate metropolitan neighborhoods.  These neighborhoods have very few blacks and Hispanics – each group has only 2% of households in neighborhoods with concentrations of high income residents.

Unemployment and poverty in neighborhoods with high concentrations of high income residents were very low – about 5% of the people in the labor force were unemployed in 2014, while 2.4% lived in poverty.

Chart 2.

high income pic 2

About 90% of high income households are in neighborhoods with more middle class households than high income households.  About 40% of high income households are in census tracts with more low income households than high income households, so there is little segregation of high income households from others, overall.

Families Living in Poverty

Upstate Metropolitan Census Tracts – 2014
Sorted by Percentage of Families in Poverty
High Concentration Census Tracts Average Concentration Census Tracts Low Concentration Census Tracts
  30% of all Residents 40% of all Residents 30% of all Residents
  % in Poverty % in Poverty % in Poverty
% Families in Poverty 47.1% 22.4% 4.2%
Low Income Households 69.8% 50.7% 25.7%
Medium Income Households 26.1% 40.9% 25.4%
High Income Households 4.1% 8.4% 48.9%
%White 28,1% 57.2% 88.7%
%Black 43.4% 26.4% 3.9%
%Hispanic 17.7% 8.9% 3.0%
Families in Poverty  23,564  30,812  22,657
All Residents  50,021  137,252  539,318
Mean Household Income $31,869 $47,385 $81,463
% Unemployment 19.2% 11.5% 5.8%

In neighborhoods with high concentrations of families in poverty, about half the families lived in poverty in 2014.  Given that about 11% of all families of upstate counties lived in poverty, these poor residents are highly concentrated.  But, 70% of all families in poverty lived in neighborhoods where 75% or more of the families did not live in poverty.

Neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty had high concentrations of low income families – 70%.  Black/African-American families were also overrepresented in census tracts with high concentrations of families living in poverty, with 43.4% of families, compared with 12% for the counties overall. Hispanic families were 17.7% of those in neighborhoods with high poverty concentrations, compared with 5.5% overall.  Not surprisingly, unemployment was also high in these neighborhoods, at 19%.

Chart 3.poverty familiesChart 3 shows a strong relationship between the percentage of families in poverty and the percent of low income households.

Upstate Urban Neighborhoods Compared to the Nation

A 2012 study by the Paul Taylor and Richard Fry of the Pew Research Center, “The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income”[1] examined changes in patterns of residence by income  in 942 metropolitan and micropolitan areas between 1980 and 2010 at the census tract level.  The report found that over that period of time, there was a significant increase in residential income segregation, with particularly large increases in the percentage of upper income families living in upper income census tracts.

The Pew study found that in 2010, 28% of lower income households lived in majority low income census tracts.  In 1980, 23% lived in low income census tracts, and 25% lived in them in 2000.   Eighteen percent of high income families lived in majority upper income census tracts  compared with 9% in 1980 and 16% in 2000.[3]

In upstate metropolitan counties 38% of low income residents lived in majority low income census tracts, compared with 37% in 2000.  In 2014, 6% of high income residents lived in majority upper income census tracts, compared with 7% in 2000.  In all, there was relatively little change in the percentage of low and high income residents living in majority same income census tracts between 2000 and 2014. Neighborhoods in upstate metropolitan areas did not see the increase in the separation of poor and wealthy residents that was found by Taylor and Fry in national data.

Overall, in 2014, upstate metropolitan counties had about 10% more low income residents living in majority low income census tracts than the average for all 948 metropolitan and micropolitan areas studied by Taylor and Fry, and 12% fewer high income residents living in majority high income census tracts.  These differences are relatively large – they point to the fact that low income residents are substantially more likely live in low income census tracts in upstate New York than in the nation as a whole.  With regard to high income residents, the reverse is true in upstate metropolitan areas – upstate high income residents are more likely to live in middle class census districts than is true nationally, and significantly less likely to live in high income census tracts.

The change in the distribution of low and high income residents by census tracts median incomes can be seen in the following chart:

% of Group Living in Majority Same Income Census Tract
Upstate Metropolitan Areas vs. Nat’l Metro/Micro Areas
Year/Region Low Income High Income
2000- National 25% 16%
2000- Upstate 37% 7%
2010- National 28% 18%
2014- Upstate 38% 6%

Chart 4.

income distribution

Chart 4 shows that while there is a concentration of low income residents on the left of the chart – the portion showing census tracts having low median incomes, the largest number of low income residents live in census tracts with near average median incomes.  In fact, using the Taylor-Fry middle income group (from 67% of median household income to 2 times median income), 61% of low income residents lived in middle income census tracts.  In 2000, the comparable figure was 63%.  For high income residents, 89% lived in middle income census tracts in 2014, compared with 90% in 2000.  So, most low and high income residents live in middle income census tracts.

All of this points to the reality that the use of the term “segregation” by Taylor and Fry overstates the reality of the differences in living patterns between high and low income residents – both in upstate New York and in the nation.

Distribution of Households by Income Groups

 Taylor and Fry found that between 1980 and 2010, the percentage of households with middle incomes declined from 54% to 48% of the total.  The percentage of low income households stayed steady at 32%, while the percentage of upper income households increased from 15% to 20%.  Taylor and Fry found little change between 2000 and 2010, with the only change in the distribution of incomes being an increase in the percentage of high income households from 19% to 20%.

Distribution of Households by Income Group
Upstate Metropolitan Areas vs. Nat’l Metro/Micro Areas
Year/Region Low Income Middle Income High Income
2000- National 32% 50% 19%
2000- Upstate 33% 50% 17%
2010- National 32% 48% 20%
2014- Upstate 35% 45% 20%

Upstate metropolitan counties saw a larger shift between 2000 and 2014. Neighborhoods in upstate urban areas had increases in the percentages of low and high income households, while the percentage of middle income households decreased from 50% to 45%.

Implications

In earlier posts, I pointed out disparities in poverty and income between upstate cities and their suburbs, and between white, black and Hispanic residents.  This research extends the analysis to the neighborhood level.  Because this neighborhood analysis does not treat cities as separate units from communities in the rest of counties outside cities, it finds less residential segregation than the city/outside city analysis that was the subject of my earlier posts.  In fact, because cities are not treated separately, the dire condition of some city neighborhoods gets lost in the overall picture.

Nevertheless, there are significant differences in the residential patterns of many poor neighborhoods, compared to the population as a whole.  The data shows that about 30% of them live in neighborhoods where low income households are a majority of all households.  These low income neighborhoods have high concentrations of minority residents, high levels of unemployment and poverty.

Similarly, while poverty was present in most neighborhoods, about thirty percent of families living in poverty lived in neighborhoods where poverty was highly concentrated, with about half the families in those neighborhoods living in poverty.  These neighborhoods had high concentrations of black and hispanic residents.

My next post will look at race in upstate urban neighborhoods, an area where there is more separation

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[1] “The Rise of Residential Segregation by Income,” Paul Taylor and Richard Fry, Pew Social and Economic Trends, Washington, D. C., August 1, 2012.  http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2012/08/Rise-of-Residential-Income-Segregation-2012.2.pdf

[2] Ibid, p. 1

[3] The Taylor-Fry study defined low income as having less than two thirds of the national median income (34,000 in 2010) and high income as more than double the national median income (104,000).

 

 

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