Income is an important measure of a community’s standard of living. Regions with higher income levels tend to have more educational, recreational, and entertainment opportunities as well as lower crimes rates. Income is not simply made up of the money people earn from work but also includes interest, dividends, social security, workers compensation, pensions as well as non-cash transfer payments such as food stamps, health benefits, and subsidized housing.
Data for this indicator was obtained from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 1-year estimates. Data was adjusted to 2015 dollars using the All Urban Consumers, U.S. city average consumer price index obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This graph shows real median household income for each of the NSJV counties and California. Nominal incomes were adjusted for inflation using the U.S. city average, all urban consumers, consumer price index. Unlike per capita income which has been steadily increasing for the NSJV and California, median household income peaked in 2007 before decreasing on an almost annual basis until 2012. Increasing per capita income and decreasing median income can be a sign of rising inequality as high income earners see income growth, and low income earners see stagnant growth. Also unlike per capita income, where all four regions examined saw increased income, Merced County suffered a decrease in median household income in 2015. However, this could be an estimation error given the volatility in the Merced data since 2009.
Data for this indicator was obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Employment Statistics. The ratio was then calculated by dividing the 75th percentile wage by the 25th percentile wage.
This graph shows the ratio of the 75th percentile wage for all occupations in each of the three NSJV counties, to the 25th percentile wage for all occupations in each of the three NSJV counties. The ratio of the 75th and 25th percentile wages is a measure of inequality. The closer the ratio is to 1, the more equal wages are. This ratio for the NSJV counties is between 2.25 and 2.4 for each of the counties. Since 2005 this ratio has increased in Merced and San Joaquin Counties, while decreasing in Stanislaus County. This same ratio for the Sacramento area 2.65, while the ratio is approximately 3 for the Bay Area. This shows that inequality is a more rampant problem is those larger urban areas than it is in the NSJV.
Data for this indicator was obtained from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 1-year estimates. This indicator shows the official federal poverty rate.
This graph shows the federal poverty rate for the three NSJV counties and California. Poverty rates have been rising in both the NSJV and California since the recession began in 2007. Of the NSJV counties, Merced County has perennially had the highest poverty rate, which peaked in 2011 at 27.4%. The poverty rate in Stanislaus increased the most after 2007 to peak at 23.8% in 2011 before decreasing to 19.7% by 2015. San Joaquin County and California experienced more modest increases in poverty rates. California’s poverty rate peaked in 2012 at 17%, while San Joaquin County’s poverty rate peaked in 2014 at 20.9%. San Joaquin County’s and California’s poverty rate decreased in 2015, while Merced and Stanislaus County’s poverty rates increased in 2015. There are some major issues with using the federal poverty rate when investigating poverty. One of the most glaring issues is that the measure does not take into account the cost of living. This is very important in a place like California which has a much higher cost of living than many other states.
Data for this indicator was obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Data was adjusted to 2015 dollars using the ‘U.S. City Average Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers’ obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This graph shows average real wages for each of the NSJV counties and California. The indicator for average wages is unique from the per capita income indicator because the average wages indicator measures income and compensation from employment. Therefore, it does not include things like dividend income, interest income, government assistance, etc.
Average wages, adjusted for inflation, have jumped in the NSJV after being stagnant for more than a decade. Between 2014 and 2015, wages increased approximately 4-5% for California and the NSJV counties. This is indicative of the economic recovery finally reaching the NSJV. This lends some evidence to the notion that the economic recovery is reaching the NSJV. Conversely, California has seen a steady increase in wages, apart from a small decrease during the recession. Wages in California increased 4.35% in 2015 compared to 4.19%, 4.96% and 5.69% in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced Counties, respectively.
In 2015, wages in California were approximately $18,000 higher than San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties and approximately $23,000 higher than Merced County.