With all the talk about 99 percents and 1 percents, we were curious about the income distribution in the Capital Region.
So, we looked up the data. Let's go to the charts, graphs, and discussion...
(You know you want to see where you rank.)
The grains of salt
There are a lot of ways to figure income. We used household income.
We used Census Bureau estimates for 2010 household income. The Census publishes the data in ranges, and the ranges aren't all the same size. Some of the bands are $5k "wide" and others are $10k (or a lot more). So that limits how fine-grained we can get about some of this (we don't know about the income distribution within bands) -- and why we have seemingly weird percentile ranks. (It also kind of borked our attempt to just make a simple graph of the distribution.) If you know of better sources and/or ways to present some of this, let us know -- we'll work it up.
The percentile ranks have been rounded.
Here's a table with breakdowns of how many people are in each income range -- in the nation, the state, and the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area:
Right, but what about 99s and 1s? We calculated percentile ranks for the Capital Region distribution. Don't squint -- check out the large-format graph all the way at the top (or scroll all the way up).
The percentile ranks are based on the upper end of each range. What does that mean? Each division line is marked with a rank (6th, 12th, and so on) that represents what percent of the population is below that level of income. Or, to put it another way, the upper end of the $50k-$59,999k range is ranked at the 53rd percentile -- that means a household making $59,999k has more income than 53 percent of the households in the Capital Region.
A few things:
+ We weren't able to figure out the cut off for the top 1 percent in the Capital Region, but could draw the line for the top 3 percent -- it's household income of $200k.
+ Definitions of what it means to be "middle class" vary widely. But if we just say it's roughly the middle 50 percent of people, the cutoff on the low end in the Capital Region would be about $25k and the upper end would be about $100k. [MoneyWatch]
+ OK, but here's the thing about that: the number of people in your household makes a big difference when thinking about this whole "middle class" definition. A single person making $25k a year -- not doing great, but you could probably argue they're hanging onto the very low end of the middle class. A family of four making $25k? Borderline official poverty (and, we would argue, actual poverty).
+ And about being in the upper 25 percent... two people with $60k/year jobs would drop a household pretty firmly in the upper 25. In the Capital Region, that's a rather comfortable living. If people in that range feel a serious crunch in some way, it's probably from educational debt (most people have to go college -- and grad school -- to get a job to put them in that range). In fact, student loan debt recently exceeded credit card debt nationally. [USA Today/CNBC]
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