Income Distribution in Honolulu

The map below shows the 1999 median income for the Census Block Groups with colored dots. The five darkness of green dots indicate the median household incomes. A natural-breaks method was used to derive the classes.

Comparison with US

Census data (SF3 Tables P53 and P82 indicate that the 1999 median household income and the 1999 per capita income were both higher for the Honolulu CDP than for the US as a whole.
measure US Honolulu CDP Tulsa, OK Las Vega, NV
Median Household Income (SF3 P53) $41,994 $45,112 $35,316 $44,069
Per capita Income (SF3 P82) $21,587 $24,191 $21,534 $22,060
Median Gross Rent ($/mo.)(SF3 H63) $602 $760 $511 $699
Median number of rooms (SF3 H24) 5.3 3.4 5.1 5.0

How does the income differential compare to the rent differential?

A finer breakdown, comparing how the income is distributed across society may be interesting too. The table below shows the percentage of households in each household-income-range category for the US as a whole compared with that for Honolulu CDP. It is based on Census table P52.
Income Range US % Honolulu CDP %
Less than $10,000 9.5 9.8
$10,000 to $14,999 6.3 5.1
$15,000 to $19,999 6.2 5.2
$20,000 to $24,999 6.5 6.0
$25,000 to $29,999 6.4 6.0
$30,000 to $34,999 6.3 6.0
$35,000 to $39,999 5.9 5.6
$40,000 to $44,999 5.6 5.7
$45,000 to $49,999 4.9 4.6
$50,000 to $59,999 9.0 7.9
$60,000 to $74,999 10.4 9.6
$75,000 to $99,999 10.2 10.8
$100,000 to $124,999 5.2 6.6
$125,000 to $149,999 2.5 3.5
$150,000 to $199,999 2.2 3.5
$200,000 or more 2.3 3.2
Notice that the categories are of different 'widths' --- that is: some are $5,000-wide ranges and others are $10,000-wide, $25,000-wide, and $50,000-wide. Notice too that the top end is an unlimited width category. What would the table look like if the categories were each $5,000-wide?

These two graphics show the difference in appearance that results from making a 'histogram' with the counts in the Census Bureau's categories versus what would happen if you allocated the households in each of the wider classes into a set of categories that are each $5000-wide. Very different impressions result.

Census categories:

Even-width categories:

Comparing Three Censuses Household Incomes for Honolulu CDP

The graphic below extends the analysis to compare the household incomes for 1979, 1989, and 1999. Each of these censuses used different'bins'. The 'bins' have been set to be $2,500 wide and the counts of wider 'bins' divided between them. Notice too that the top 'bin' has no upper limit and in each census has a different 'floor'. In the graph, all of the households in each census' highest 'bin' is lumped into a $2,500 bin even though it should be distributed out to some actual (an unreported) highest household income. The dollars have not been adjusted for inflation. The median household incomes, again, not adjusted to constant dollars, increased through this period.
Year Median Household Income
1979 $19,897
1989 $37,190
1999 $45,112

The upshot of these observations is not all that clear. It appears that median household income more than doubled in this period. The graphic also suggests that the range of incomes is spreading out. In that sense, we are becoming more diverse. I think that it means that the differences between the more and the less wealthy are increasing. Note that in 1979 the highest category is more frequent than any of the others.

New Subheading

The tables below were extracted from the US Census 2000 SF3 data using the American Factfinder interface. Notice that these example census areas do seem to differ in the kinds and amounts of income recorded by the census. It might be useful to convert the counts to percentages to make them more comparable.

Census data on US, Honolulu and example census block groups

Distribution across Honolulu

(Note that the syllabus has links to several maps of income provided by the State GIS.)

(choropleth map)
The map above shows the 1999 median household incomes for census blockgroups, converted into standard deviation scores. The red areas have median household incomes that are more than 1.5 SD below the mean. The light yellow areas are within .5 SD of the mean. The dark green areas have median household incomes more than 1.5 SD above the mean.

This one shows essentially the same data, but with graduated color dots. Deep red dots are 2 s.d. above the mean median household income. Pink dots are 1 s.d. above the mean. White invisible dots mark block groups at the mean. Light blue dots 1 s.d. below the mean. Deep blue dots are 2 s.d. below the mean.

A Tale of Two Cities?

What would you expect to see if you compared the income distribution in two parts of the city? Consider Kalihi (CT 60 BG 1) and Kahala (CT 5 BG 3). How similar would they be?

Kalihi (CT 60 BG 1):

Some tables on household and family income as well as sources can be used to compare Tract 5 Blockgroup 3 vs Tract 60 Blockgroup 1 .

What do you see there?

Commentary on the nation...

The following article appeared in the New York Times and is reproduced here for the class. Paul Krugman, New York Times Magazine 20 Oct 2002 Read this article on the trends in income and wealth distribution in the US.

See also the Reuters 18 Dec 2012 story "Redistributing UP" in their series on "The Unequal State of America". Probably here. A graphic shows that, adjusted for inflation, the histogram of incomes is flattening nationally, i.e., the middle class is disappearing.

Is this also the situation in Hawaii? Is this a good thing, a bad thing, both, neither? Why?