Median Household Incomes Flat and Income Inequality Still Exists

After adjusting for inflation, median household incomes have largely remained flat since 1990 and, in some instances, lower. Meanwhile, income inequality by race and ethnicity linger.

Median Household Incomes in Constant Dollars

Median household incomes in Albany, Rensselaer, and Schenectady counties have changed very little since 1990. In 1990, the median household incomes (after adjusting for inflation) were in the high $50,000 to low $60,000 range. But in 26 years the needle has barely moved. Albany County’s median household income has decreased slightly (-2.4%), Rensselaer’s has increased slightly (3.3%), and Schenectady’s is virtually unchanged (1.6%). The outlier is Saratoga County which has always had a higher median household income. In 1990, Saratoga County’s adjusted median household income was over $68,000 while from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey it has increased to just over $74,000.

Median Household Income by Race and Ethnicity

Median household incomes by racial and ethnic divisions show the same inequalities that affected the region in 1990. The average median household income for Asian and White households in the four counties remains much higher than the average median household incomes for Hispanic and Black households. Today, the average median household income for Asian and White households is nearly $30,000 higher than that of Black householders. In 1990, the gap between White Households and Black Households was “only” about $24,000, while the gap between Asian and Black Households was  $32,000.

Asian households have experienced a decline in the average median household income, falling from just over $72,000 in the 1990 Census to a little more than $68,000 in the 2012-2016 ACS. White Households saw their average median household income increased from about $63,500 to just over $67,700 during that same period. Hispanic households experienced a sharp contraction in the average median household income from 1990 to 2000. After adjusting for inflation, incomes fell by over $12,000 to slightly more than $44,000. The 2012-2016 ACS does show some improvement in incomes increasing to almost $47,700. Black households have consistently had the lowest average median household income, and have lost ground since 1990. After adjusting for inflation, average median household incomes have declined by almost $2,000 to just over $37,900.

The trends in household incomes and the relationship to race/ethnicity will be explored more in the upcoming issue of Capital District Data. You can find previous issues of Capital District Data by clicking here.