Median income continues to rise in Capital Region

Census snapshot shows Schenectady County lagging behind neighbors on economic indicators
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SCHENECTADY — Household income and other economic indicators in Schenectady County continue to lag behind those in its larger Capital Region neighbors, federal data show.

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday issued one of its American Community Survey statistical updates, this one focusing on income levels, poverty rates and health insurance coverage.

The Capital Region as a whole did better than the state and national averages on most of these important economic indicators, but it is not a complete portrait of the region: Only the four large counties in the area — Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady — are included, as the ACS does not provide estimates for counties with fewer than 65,000 residents.

Schenectady County, the smallest of the four in population and land area, had the highest poverty rate, the second-lowest rate of health insurance coverage and the lowest median household income. 

A household is defined as one or more people living in a single housing unit, but how they live together has a great impact on the household income.

For example, in 2017, median income for all households in Schenectady County was $62,514. That broke down to $36,163 for non-family households, $87,182 for family households and $101,717 for family households including a married couple.

MEDIAN INCOME

Income in all four of the large Capital Region counties has long since recovered from the decreases seen in the wake of the Great Recession a decade ago. By 2017, all but Rensselaer County had the highest estimated median income ever reported by the American Community Survey in that county.

Here are the numbers for 2007 and 2017, and the percentage increase:

  • Albany County: $53,012 $66,204 24.9%
  • Rensselaer County: $50,850 $64,050 26.0%
  • Saratoga County: $62,749 $83,726 33.4%
  • Schenectady County: $54,949 $62,514 13.8%
  • New York state: $53,514 $64,894 21.3%
  • United States: $50,740 $60,336 18.9%

POVERTY RATE

The poverty rate — the percentage of people living in households with total income below federally defined poverty thresholds — is lower in Schenectady County than in the state and nation but higher than the three other large Capital Region counties’ rates.

The following percentages of residents are living below the poverty level, according to the survey:

  • Albany County: 6.3%
  • Rensselaer County: 6.7%
  • Saratoga County: 4.2%
  • Schenectady County: 8.5%
  • New York state: 10.4%
  • United States: 9.5%

HEALTH INSURANCE

With the activist stance of the state leadership, New York state has a higher rate of insurance coverage than the nation as a whole. Capital Region counties are higher yet, exceeding the statewide total by 2 to 3 percentage points.

The following percentages of residents have insurance coverage, according to the survey:

  • Albany County: 96.9%
  • Rensselaer County:  96.0%
  • Saratoga County: 97.7%
  • Schenectady County: 96.4%
  • New York state: 94.3%
  • United States: 91.3%

HOUSING VALUES

Housing is less expensive on average in Schenectady County than in nearby counties, the state as a whole, or the nation.

The survey gives the following median value of owner-occupied housing units and the median monthly cost of rental units:

  • Albany County: $227,000 $998
  • Rensselaer County: $196,000 $913    
  • Saratoga County: $258,600 $1,052
  • Schenectady County: $164,400 $885
  • New York state: $314,500 $1,226
  • United States: $217,600 $1,012

POPULATION

New York state in recent decades has lagged significantly behind the nation in population growth, due to a continued outmigration of residents and a lower birth rate. Most of the state’s growth is in and around New York City; the Capital Region is one of the few areas of growth upstate, where many counties’ populations are actually shrinking.

The following numbers show populations in 2007 and 2017, and the percentage change:

  • Albany County: 299,307 309,612 3.4%
  • Rensselaer County: 155,318 159,722 2.8%
  • Saratoga County: 215,852 229,869 6.5%
  • Schenectady County: 150,818 155,565 3.1%
  • New York state: 19.3M 19.85M 2.8%
  • United States: 301.62M 325.72M 8.0%

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