Introduction: This study examines the concentration of wealth in New York City between 1990 and 2010 using data on household income from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Methods: Data on Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa. Cases in the dataset were weighted and analyzed to produce population estimates.
Results: The data indicate an extraordinary, and growing, concentration of wealth in the City at large and among each major race/ethnic group, as well as among the five largest Latino national subgroups. The upper 20% of all household income earners in the City controlled 48% of total household income in 1990 and 54% in 2010. Over the same period the lower 20% of all households experienced a slight decline of from 3.3% to 3% of the City’s total household income. At the very top of the household-income earning hierarchy the upper 1% of all New York City households experienced an increase in their median incomes from $452,415 in 1990 to $716,625 in 2010. For the upper 10% of income-earning households their median incomes rose from $205,193 to $262,010 over the same period.
Discussion: The data presented in this report provide unmistakable empirical evidence of the progressive concentration of household income in New York City between 1990 and 2010 among the wealthiest New Yorkers. The three indicators used for this study – percentile breakdowns of income; actual inflation adjusted dollar-income categories; and the gini index of inequality – offer consistent and indisputable evidence of this process. While progressive income concentration was evident within every race/ethnic group in the city there was an extraordinary process of household income concentration within the non-Hispanic white population between 1990 and 2010. Not only did these households account for about half the city’s total income in 2010 despite making up about 37% of all households, but the concentration of income in higher income categories was the most extreme among all race/ethnic groups.