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Municipal Median Household Incomes Compared to the State Median Household Income

June 28, 2018 Data Viz

Guest post by Julia Vieira, Research Intern

Median household income is a useful measure to understand the typical middle-income levels of a given locality. Compared to the nationwide 2012-2016 American Community Survey estimate ($55,322, +/- $120), New Hampshire fares very well, with a median household income estimate of $68,485 (+/- $579), which places the state among the top ten highest median household incomes. However, differences within the state can be striking, and analyzing smaller regions can show how incomes deviate from the statewide estimates.

The following map displays the median household income of New Hampshire cities and towns relative to the state’s median household income, using the 2012-2016 American Community Survey estimates. The household income is the sum of incomes of all people 15 years and older in the household, whether or not they are related. The municipal median household income is the middle point of the household income distribution in a city or town. When identified accurately, one-half of households in the municipality have incomes above the median, and the other half have incomes below the median. Because some municipalities have small populations and the survey-based data present some estimates with large margins of errors, readers should be very cautious in making conclusions regarding estimates at the municipal level.

Many municipalities (91) present median household incomes that are similar to the state’s estimate, with median household income estimates statistically indistinguishable from the statewide estimate. Among that group, however, some municipalities present estimates that have high degree of uncertainty because of small sample sizes. This is the case in the town of Windsor, for example, in which the estimated range of median household income varies from $22,240 to $96,926 because the sample size is too small to have greater certainty with confidence. Nevertheless, 79 municipalities present median household incomes that appear to be below the statewide estimate. Those municipalities generally show median household income estimates that range between the upper $50,000s and the lower $30,000s. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 65 municipalities have median household incomes above the statewide estimate, ranging between the upper $70,000s to more than $120,000. Again, estimates for specific municipalities, particularly for those with estimated populations of less than 1,000 people, should be interpreted with a high degree of caution, as survey data can be subject to significant uncertainty. Places designated as non-applicable have very low population or no inhabitants.

The map shows that municipalities with estimated median household incomes below the statewide estimate are mainly located in the northern part of the state, quite removed from the Boston metropolitan area, whereas municipalities with higher median household incomes are generally located in the southeastern part of the state, closer to the Boston metropolitan area.

To produce the map, the estimates for each municipality and for the state were retrieved from the 2012-2016 American Community Survey estimates and compared through the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Testing Tool. The ranges of median household income and population were estimated at a 90 percent level of confidence, indicating a 10 percent chance the actual median household income is outside of that range, based on the survey sample data.

To view data in full screen mode or on a mobile device, click here.

For more information on estimates of median household income in New Hampshire and understanding margins of error in American Community Survey data, see NHFPI’s Common Cents posts on Understanding Differing Median Household Income Estimates and Interpreting the Significance of the October County Census Data Release.




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