Long Island’s middle class is becoming smaller

Compared to 2009, there are fewer and fewer people on Long Island earning annual wages between $35,000 and $150,000.

Instead, there’s an increase in those making less than $35,000 and those making $150,000 or more. What does this mean? It means that income disparity on Long Island is getting worse.

Long Island’s median income started falling in 2009, and did not recover until 2016. By 2018, it increased to $105,000 – just a 1% increase of the 2009 median of $103,132.

Wait, the median? Not average?

The median is a more useful measure than the mean (or average) as it is less influenced by extreme values.

The mean can be a lot more easily skewed by very high or low values. This document give a more detailed explanation of why the median is used.

While Long Island’s GDP and the U.S. economy has seen steady growth since 2009, the poor on Long Island are still disproportionately affected. They are struggling more while the median earners and the wealthiest on Long Island have since improved or recovered.

When we compare 2009 with 2018, the top 10% of earners on Long Island have seen their inflation-adjusted wages grow 5%.

The bottom 10% of Long Islanders however, have seen their income decline by nearly 7%.

So in summary:

  • The number of high earners making $150,000 and more has grown by 8.6%
  • The number of low earners making $35,000 and less has also grown by 9.6%
  • Other income groups have shrunk between 4-12%
Is Long Island sustainable with a shrinking middle class?