Census Data Shows New York Mirrors National Trends of Inequity

On November 6, 2013 Applied Research Center (ARC) was rebranded as Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. The content on this page was published on the ARC website prior to the rebrand.
September, 27 2007

Across the Nation, families of color earn less income, have higher poverty rates and attain college degrees at lower rates as compared to white people.  New York mirrors these national trends.  Here, we look at individual racial groups to see how they fare in New York when it comes to rates and disparities in poverty, educational attainment, and family income.

Overall Trends:

Family Poverty: Nationwide, families of color are three times more likely to live in poverty than white families. One in five families of color lives in poverty. While poverty decreased between 2005 and 2006 for the nation as a whole, there was no statistically significant change for families in New York—11 percent of families in New York currently live in poverty.

•    Latinos: Mexicans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans have the highest family poverty rates in New York (30.2%, 29.8%, 26.3% respectively). Mexican and Dominican families are five times more likely to live in poverty than white families in New York. Overall, Latinos in New York tend to have higher family poverty rates (23%) than the nation’s average for Latinos (19.3%).  

•    Blacks: One in five (19.6%) Black families in New York live in poverty. Black families in New York are over three times more likely to live in poverty than white families. The difference in poverty rates is slightly lower in New York—19.6%— compared to the national average—21.6%.

•    Asians: Most Asian communities have significantly higher family poverty rates in New York than the national average. Chinese families, for example, are 72 percent more likely to live in poverty in New York than the Chinese families across the nation. Asian families in New York are more than twice as likely (2.12 poverty gap) to live in poverty as white families.

Educational Attainment: A college education has become the 21st century equivalent of a high school diploma. The average annual income of adults with a bachelors degree or higher is over double that of a high school graduate. This difference adds up to over $1 million in lifetime income. While a higher education increases the average income for all racial groups, stark racial disparities exist at all levels of educational attainment.

•    Blacks: One in five (19.4%) Black adults over 25 years has attained a bachelor’s degree or higher in New York. While this is higher than the national average for Black adults (16.9%), the gap between the percent of Black and white adults with a degree is slightly larger in New York in comparison to the nation (54% and 56.5% respectively).  Whites are nearly twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree or higher than Blacks.

•    Latinos: Only fifteen percent—one in seven— of Latino adults over 25 years has attained a bachelor’s degree or higher in New York. Educational attainment, however, is not the same across Latino communities. One in ten Mexicans, twelve percent of Puerto Ricans and thirteen percent of Dominicans have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to thirty six percent of whites.

•    Asians: While some groups of Asian adults have higher bachelor’s attainment rates than whites, education attainment levels for Asians in New York are significantly lower than the national average for Asians (45.1% and 49.2% respectively). Over half (51.7%) of Chinese adults nationwide have a college degree compared to over one third (35.2%) of Chinese adults in New York.  

Family Income: In 2006, the median family income in the U.S. increased to $58,526. While New York has one of the highest family incomes in the nation, the state has the largest income inequity—with the exception of D.C.—as measured by the U.S. Census’s Gini Index of income distributions between the rich and poor.   

•    Blacks: The median Black family income in New York is $45,090—over $6,700 more than the national average for Black families ($38,385). Black families earn, on average, $0.62 for every dollar earned by whites in New York.

•    Latinos: The median Latino family income in New York is $38,951. Latinos families earn, on average $0.54 for every dollar earned by whites in New York. Mexican, Dominican, and Puerto Rican families in New York have statistically lower incomes in New York ($32,364, $29,959, $37,881 respectively) when compared to Latinos nationwide ($40,074).

•    Asians: The median family income for Asians in New York is $60,762 ranging from $50,300 for Chinese families to $98,467 for Filipino families. With the exception of Filipinos, Asians earn significantly less in New York ($60,762) compared to the national average ($72,305). This data appears to parallel educational attainment level for Asian communities.

Source: ARC data analysis of the 2006 American Community Survey, Selected Population Profiles and “Income, Earnings and Poverty Data from the 2006 American Community Survey.”