Income >> Notes & Sources

Income: Notes & Sources

Definitions

Confidence Interval (also known as error bar) is the range of values that includes the true value 90% of the time (for American Community Survey data). If the confidence intervals of two groups do not overlap, the difference between groups is considered statistically significant (meaning that chance or random variation is unlikely to explain the difference).   

Family household is a household in which at least 1 person is related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption.  The US Census excludes same-sex married couples, unmarried opposite-sex partners, and households with grandparents and grandchildren (but not parents) from its definition of family.  

Federal Poverty Guidelines are issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and are used to determine financial eligibility for various federal, state, and local assistance programs. The guidelines are based on the Census Department’s federal poverty thresholds. For a family of 4, the federal poverty guideline was $22,050 in 2010; in 2012 it is $23,050.

The Federal Poverty Threshold was adopted in 1964 as an “absolute measure” by which progress in the War on Poverty could be assessed. It is updated annually by the Census Bureau, and is used to calculate official population statistics on the number of Americans in poverty. Its usefulness has diminished over the past half century, as it almost certainly underestimates poverty in the United States. Some specific shortcomings include:

  • Lack of adjustment for regional costs
  • Calculation based totally on the cost of food, ignoring significant contributions from housing, transportation, utilities, health care, and child care
  • Reliance on pre-tax earnings, excluding the effects of tax adjustments, food stamps, housing benefits, and other transfers

Living Wage is the minimum income needed to buy the basic necessities, plus handle limited emergencies and planning for the future, without assistance from public programs.  Many workers with income above the Federal Poverty Threshold, or who work full-time at minimum-wage jobs, are still unable to afford basic necessities. Basic necessities do not include restaurant meals; calculations assume that all food is prepared at home.

Minimum Wage in Washington State is the highest in the nation, and is adjusted annually for cost-of-living. 

     2010     

     $8.55 per hour     

     2011

     $8.67 per hour

     2012

     $9.04 per hour

     2013     

     $9.19 per hour     

     2014     

     $9.32 per hour     

     2015     

     $9.47 per hour     

Net Worth, commonly used as an indicator of wealth, reflects the total value of assets minus debts.  For most people, their home is their largest asset.

Poverty:  “Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity.  It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.”    United Nations Statement, June 1998, signed by the heads of all UN agencies. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/documents/ydiDavidGordon_poverty.pdf

Race/Ethnicity: Federal standards mandate that race and ethnicity (Hispanic origin) are distinct concepts requiring 2 separate questions when collecting data from an individual. "Hispanic origin" is meant to capture the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of an individual (or his/her parents) before arriving in the United States. Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race. Communities Count's terms for racial/ethnic groups are derived from those used by the U.S Census Bureau in 2010.

  • Communities Count terms:  Hispanic, Non-Hispanic, White Non-Hispanic, Black, American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN), Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI), White, and Multiple Race (Multiple). Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race and are included in other racial categories. Racial/ethnic groups are sometimes combined when sample sizes are too small for valid statistical comparisons of more discrete groups. 
  • 2010 Census terms: Hispanic or Latino, Not Hispanic or Latino, White alone (Not Hispanic or Latino),  Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White, Some Other Race, and Two or More Races.

Notes

Technical Notes

Statistical Significance: Unless otherwise noted, any difference mentioned in the text is statistically significant (unlikely to have occurred by chance).

Poverty Notes

Confidence intervals were not available for data on King County residents living below the Federal Poverty Threshold in 1989 and 1999.

For more information about federal poverty data: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/index.html

For 2010 Federal Poverty Thresholds: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/index.html, accessed 10/10/11

For more information about poverty in 2009 and 2010 from American Community Survey Briefs: http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-01.pdf, and backtrack to http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html

In an attempt to more accurately characterize economic well-being, the Census Bureau has created the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).  The official Poverty Threshold calculation is based on the cost of food and before-tax income. The SPM estimates both expenses and resources more realistically.  Food, housing, utilities, and clothing are counted as expenses. And on the resource side, gross income is modified by tax payments (and credits); receipt of benefits such as assistance for housing and food; and expenses incurred for work, child care, medical care, and child support. Regional price differences are also taken into consideration. Currently the SPM is not used to calculate benefit eligibility.  For further discussion of the Supplemental Poverty Measure, see:

Living Wage Notes

Washington State minimum wage:  On January 1, 2014, Washington State’s minimum wage (which is indexed to inflation and applies to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural jobs) increased to $9.32 an hour. Washington’s minimum wage is the highest in the United States.

Inflation rates for 2009 and 2010: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Consumer Price Index – December 2009, USDL-10-0011, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cpi_01152010.pdf, accessed 6/7/2012; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Consumer Price Index – December 2010, USDL-11-0018, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cpi_01142011.pdf, accessed 6/7/2012.

Washington State job supply:  In 2014, almost 42% of all non-farm employees in WA (including government workers) were reported from businesses located in King County, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department, King County Profile, September 2015, https://fortress.wa.gov/esd/employmentdata/reports-publications/regional-reports/county-profiles/king-county-profile#labor, accessed 7/6/2016.

Living Wage Data Sources

Washington State minimum wage: History of Washington Minimum Wage, Washington Department of Labor & Industries, http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Wages/Minimum/History/default.asp, accessed 7/6/2016.

Federal Poverty Threshold for 2014:  Poverty Thresholds, United States Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-poverty-thresholds.html, accessed 7/12/2016.

Living wages for 2006: The Race for Wages, Living Wage Jobs in the Current Economy, 2007 Northwest Job Gap Study, Alliance for a Just Society (formerly Northwest Federation of Community Organizations), http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2006-0919_LW-Jobs_NW.pdf

Living wages for 2008: 2009 Job Gap, Searching for Work That Pays, 2009 Job Gap Study, December 2009, Alliance for a Just Society (formerly Northwest Federation of Community Organizations),  http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2009-1203_2009-Job-Gap.pdf.

Living wages for 2010:  Searching for Work That Pays, 2010 Job Gap Study, December 2010, Alliance for a Just Society (formerly Northwest Federation of Community Organizations), http://nwfco.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/2010-1209_2010-Job-Gap.pdf.

Living wages for 2014:  King County data was not included in the 2014 online version of People’s Action Pay Up! and was instead provided by Allyson Fredericksen, Deputy Director of Research, People’s Action/People’s Action Institute (www.peoplesaction.org).   

Living-wage job opportunities for 2014: Allyson Fredericksen. Patchwork of Paychecks: A shortage of full-time living wage jobs leaves workers scrambling to make ends meet, December 2015. http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Patchwork-of-Paychecks-FINAL.pdf, accessed 7/5/2016. 

Median Income Notes

For information on the relationship between income inequality and health, see Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2009.

Median Income Trend

  • Statistical significance between median income before and after 2004 have not been computed because confidence intervals are not available for data prior to 2004. Comparisons of income data before and after 2004 should be done with caution because the data were collected using somewhat different methods.  The long form of the census was used to collect data for the years before 2001.  The American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census, was used in 2004 and subsequent years.   For more information see http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/datasources/description.html.
  • 1979 – 2010 adjusted median incomes are in 1983 Consumer Price Index-adjusted dollars.
  • Data on median income by King County region will become available when the programming for the analysis has been completed.

Median Household Income Trends by Race/Ethnicity (1999, 2005-2014) 

  • The chart describes trends over time.  Confidence intervals are not displayed, but are included in the following data tables. Confidence intervals are not available for 1999.
  • To look at median income before and after the Great Recession, Communities Count analyzed data from single years.  Although data for racial/ethnic groups that comprise <5% of the King County population are not shown on the trend chart, data for all groups is shown in the data tables below.  

Data Table for Median Household Income by Race/ethnicity, King County (1999, 2005-2009)     

 199920052006200720082009
   Estimate  Estimate C.I.  Estimate C.I.  Estimate C.I.  Estimate C.I. Estimate  C.I.
White $56,142 $62,137 +/-$1,232 $32,353 +/-$1,191 $71,408 +/-$1,065 $74,265 +/-$1,921 $71,290 +/-$1,355
Black $35,172 $32,353 +/-$4,710 $37,869 +/-$5,035 $36,493 +/-$7,468 $38,847 +/-$2,619 $37,241 +/-$3,494
AIAN $35,694 $37,854 +/-$8,037 $28,912 +/-$11,576 $38,647 +/-$12,218 $47,413 +/-$12,012 $43,634 +/-$6,295
Asian $50,864 $60,084 +/-$3,436 $64,015 +/-$4,726 $66,075 +/-$7,592 $72,908 +/-$2,897 $70,859 +/-$3,739
NHPI $45,104 $44,440 +/-$8,110 $61,156 +/-$23,449 $55,421 +/-$8,190 $69,223 +/-$10,453 $64,543 +/-$7,565
Other Race $37,505 $33,120 +/-$3,919 $40,978 +/-$5,204 $47,488 +/-$8,599 $51,887 +/-$5,765 $49,271 +/-$7,721
Multiple Race $40,969 $44,981 +/-$6,600 $49,515 +/-$9,914 $52,414 +/-$6,505 $58,495 +/-$9,236 $64,501 +/-$6,773
Hispanic (any race) $39,971 $36,097 +/-$3,417 $42,946 +/-$4,576 $47,589 +/-$3,929 $50,741 +/-$4,829 $48,379 +/-$4,290

  

Data Table for Median Household Income by Race/ethnicity, King County (2006-2010)

 20102011201220132014
  Estimate  C.I. Estimate C.I. Estimate C.I. Estimate  C.I. Estimate C.I.
White $70,166 +/-$1,181 $72,786 +/-$1,552 $73,483 +/-$1,962 $76,560 +/-$1,778 $80,804 +/-$1,313
Black $37,452 +/-$3,107 $36,922 +/-$5,891 $35,949 +/-$3,827 $33,955 +/-$3,632 $38,838 +/-$4,327
AIAN $37,927 +/-$15,945 $38,292 +/-$17,551 $45,507 +/-$11,811 $42,060 +/-$6,061 $28,550 +/-$10,006
Asian $74,669 +/-$3,921 $71,816 +/-$2,488 $76,553 +/-$3,549 $75,555 +/-$3,590 $83,412 +/-$5,813
NHPI $40,802 +/-$9,778 $62,560 +/-$5,352 $36,701 +/-$9,143 $52,733 +/-$6,401 $61,326 +/-$20,759
Other Race $38,149 +/-$4,014 $37,595 +/-$8,692 $40,628 +/-$8,088 $47,472 +/-$12,447 $43,833 +/-$4,836
Multiple Race $54,182 +/-$8,036 $59,209 +/-$5,183 $51,560 +/-$4,591 $58,239 +/-$9,340 $66,423 +/-$6,263
Hispanic (any race) $46,761 +/-$2,723 $43,523 +/-$4,424 $45,290 +/-$5,782 $48,308 +/-$7,250 $51,314 +/-$4,108







 

Income Distribution by Quintiles

  • The chart describes a trend over time, but no statistical tests of the trend were done.  Confidence intervals are not displayed because the data necessary to compute them are not available for all years.

Distribution of Income by Household Income Quintiles, King County & USA, 2010

    

Poorest 5th     

Low 5th         

Middle 5th    

High 5th       

Richest 5th   

King County         

   3.4%   

9.1%

15.1%

23.2%

49.3%

United States

3.3%

8.6%

14.6%

23.1%

50.3%

  • Details about parallel shifts in the national distribution of wealth are presented in Linda Levine (July 17, 2012), An Analysis of the Distribution of Wealth Across Households, 1989-2010, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, 7-5700, http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/, RL33433 at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33433.pdf.  Retrieved 7/27/2012.

Wealth Disparity Notes

Data Sources

Poverty Data Sources

2012 HHS Poverty Guidelines:  http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/12poverty.shtml

2011 HHS Poverty Guidelines:  http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11poverty.shtml

Sources for % living below poverty:  U. S. Census (1989, 1999) and American Community Survey (2007, 2010) http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/index.html,  accessed 10/10/11.

Living Wage Data Sources

Washington State minimum wage: History of Washington Minimum Wage, Washington Department of Labor & Industries, http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Wages/Minimum/History/default.asp, accessed 7/6/2016.

Living wages for 2006: The Race for Wages, Living Wage Jobs in the Current Economy, 2007 Northwest Job Gap Study, Alliance for a Just Society (formerly Northwest Federation of Community Organizations), http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2006-0919_LW-Jobs_NW.pdf

Living wages for 2007: The 2008 Job Gap, Tough Times for Northwest Families, 2008 Job Gap Study, December 2008, Alliance for a Just Society (formerly Northwest Federation of Community Organizations), http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2008-1209_2008-Job-Gap.pdf.

Living wages for 2008: 2009 Job Gap, Searching for Work That Pays, 2009 Job Gap Study, December 2009, Alliance for a Just Society (formerly Northwest Federation of Community Organizations),  http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/2009-1203_2009-Job-Gap.pdf.

Living wages and living-wage job opportunities for 2010: Searching for Work That Pays, 2010 Job Gap Study, December 2010, Alliance for a Just Society (formerly Northwest Federation of Community Organizations), http://nwfco.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/2010-1209_2010-Job-Gap.pdf. NOTE:  The 2010 Job Gap Study did not include Households with 2 adults (both working), 1 school-aged child, and 1 toddler in their table of WA State living-wage job openings, job seekers per living-wage opening, or WA State percent of all jobs paying less than a living wage.  Based on the data provided by the Job Gap Study, Communities Count used linear interpolation to estimate the values of these cells.

Living wages and living-wage job opportunities for 2014: Allyson Fredericksen. Patchwork of Paychecks: A shortage of full-time living wage jobs leaves workers scrambling to make ends meet, December 2015. http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Patchwork-of-Paychecks-FINAL.pdf, accessed 7/5/2016. 

Median Income Data Sources

Historical median income data for King County: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/county/county4.html

  • 1990, 1980, and 1970 Censuses of Population and Housing; Income Statistics Branch/HHES Division
  • U.S. Census 1999 data; American Community Survey 2007 & 2010 data
  • 1979 – 2010 adjusted median incomes are in 1983 Consumer Price Index-adjusted dollars.

Median Income by Race/Ethnicity 

Income Distribution among Households, by Quintiles

  • Data for 1979, 1989, and 1999 are from the 1980, 1990 and 2000 Censuses, respectively.
  • Data for 2004 - 2010 are from the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census. http://factfinder2.census.gov/

Wealth Disparity Data Sources

Other Sources

Maps of King County covering a wide range of topics can be accessed at http://www.kingcounty.gov/operations/GIS/Maps.aspx#PH.  Maps most immediately relevant to Communities Count are under the headings of Community data & demographics, Public health, and Environment & natural resources, but other maps should be useful as well (farmers markets, transit routes, walking and biking routes, parks, traffic counts, etc.).

Quotes:  Communities Count interviewed 32 King County parents or guardians raising at least one child younger than 6 years of age.  We reached out to communities of color, recent immigrants, and residents with limited English proficiency to achieve a broad range of racial, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity. We interviewed both families with very low household income and those who earned up to median income (about $68,000 for a family of four in 2010). Family structures included single-parent households, couples living in consensual unions, married couples, and extended families.

Bricker J, Bucks B, Kennickell A, Mach T, Moore K.  Surveying the aftermath of the storm: changes in family finances from 2007 to 2009.  Washington DC: Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Divisions of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve Board, 2011. http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2011/201117/201117pap.pdf, accessed 5/2012.