Race on LI: The Income Gap

The Number

The median Black household makes around $16,000 less than the median white household.

The stark health disparities of the worst public health crisis and economic downturn in decades has reflected the realities of income inequality and a demand for further exploration into racial disparities.

What is Long Island’s wage gap between Blacks and whites?

Using Census microdata, we calculated Black and white median household income on LI and compared the two groups’ rate of financial recovery after the 2008 economic recession.

The 2018 median household income for Long Islanders stands at $105,000 –– $43,063 more than the national median income and $37,156 more than the state’s. While that’s comparatively high, so is the cost of living here.

Broken down by race, the median white household makes $109,000 while the median Black household makes $93,050, both record highs since the recession in 2008.

The nearly $16,000 gap in LI’s Black-white median household income tracks with the $24,000 national Black-white gap. Against the region’s median income, the median Black family makes $12,000 less than the median LI household.

Black households tend to make less than their white counterparts. In the graph above, nearly a quarter of Black households make less than $35,000 (3 times LI’s median income)––and, the higher the income bracket, the higher the representation of whites over Blacks.

However, the most notable disparities are in the highest and lowest earning households:

Nearly 1 out of 5 white households make more than $200,000, while only 1 out of 10 Black households make the same amount. In the lowest income bracket, Black households are twice as likely to make less than $10,000 than white households.

Additionally, year-over-year, Black Long Islanders experience larger fluctuations in income changes. They experience both sharper increases and decreases compared to white Long Islanders.

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.