What does this measure?
Median household income, in 2021 dollars. Half of incomes are below the median and half are above.
Why is this important?
Median household income is a gauge of overall economic health of the region and the financial resources of households. Examining income for different racial and ethnic groups is important as a measure of inequity.
How is our county doing?
In 2017-21, median income was substantially lower among African American ($63,900) and Hispanic ($52,400) households, and higher among white ($93,500) and Asian ($121,900) households. After inflation, Asian households saw the largest increase since 2000 (32%), compared to smaller increases among African American (14%), Hispanic (19%) and white (6%) households.
The state had similar disparities in 2017-21. African American households in Essex earned more than in Massachusetts as a whole ($60,200), and Hispanics in Essex also earned slightly more than at the state level ($52,100). Earnings for white Massachusetts residents were similar to Essex, while Asians in Essex earned more than the state median ($108,600). Compared to national medians, most groups in Essex earned more except Hispanic households, who fared better at the national level ($58,800). Among Essex County's cities, median income for Hispanic households was lower than the County median in Lawrence ($45,800), but higher than the County median in Lynn ($52,600), Methuen ($55,400), and Haverhill ($58,200).
How do we compare to similar counties?
Essex County's disparities were similar to the comparison counties. Essex County had lower median incomes for every racial and ethnic group than the comparison counties, with the exception of African Americans in Lake, IL ($52,500).
Why do these disparities exist?
These large and persistent disparities in income are the result of historic and current policies and practices that disadvantaged people of color. Research has connected slavery and the inability of black Americans even after emancipation to fully participate in economic life to the wealth and income gaps still present today. Structural racism perpetuated by policies and practices that systematically disadvantage African American and Latino communities include inequitable education, low wages, job and wage discrimination, lack of access to capital, and globalization. Even when a recovery from the current economic crisis occurs, it is not expected to make up for the pre-existing racial disparities experienced over time unless policies are enacted to address these gaps.
Notes about the data
Figures are in constant 2021 dollars. The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined 5 years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with 3 asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.