By James A. Parrott, PhD
New data for 2016, released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week, shows continued healthy gains in median family incomes and significant drops in poverty, especially childhood poverty, in New York City.
The new figures confirm trends reported in the Center for New York City Affairs’ July 19th Urban Matters post, “More Jobs, Rising Wages, Broader Advances: Seven Indicators of New York’s Economic Health.”
The Census Bureau found that real median family income in New York City rose 5.2 percent in 2016, and is up 9.5 percent since 2013. Real median family income in the city had fallen by 5.2 percent from 2008 to 2013, during and after the Great Recession. The 2016 median family income level of $65,440 was 3.8 percent greater than the 2008 level (expressed in 2016 dollars).
NYC Median Family Income Rose 5.2% in 2016, and Has Surpassed the 2008 Pre-Recession Level ($2016).
Poverty in New York City (as measured by the Census Bureau) also declined further in 2016, from 20 percent to 18.9 percent, after dropping by 0.9 percentage points in 2015. Our poverty rate remained considerably higher than the national poverty level of 14.0 percent in 2016. On a brighter note, families with children and single mothers had higher income gains over the 2013-16 period (11.8% and 11.7%, respectively), than childless families (5.4 percent.) This helped reduce the Census Bureau child poverty measure in the city by 3.2 percentage points, from 29.8 percent in 2013 to 26.6 percent in 2016.
To underscore a point made in the July Urban Matters post: The sustained increases in New York’s minimum wage, which was $7.25 an hour in 2013 and is now from $10.50-$12.00 an hour (highest for fast-food workers, lowest for other workers in businesses employing 10 or fewer workers) has had a lot to do with the wage and income gains, and poverty reduction, in New York City since 2013. Significant and sustained job growth and steady reductions in the unemployment rate have also contributed, along with the minimum wage increases, to the most significant economic gains registered for most city residents since the 1980s.