Graduate Center Study Shows an Increasing Concentration of Household Income Among Upper Earning Households in the U.S.

Media contact: Tanya Domi, tdomi@gc.cuny.edu, 212-817-7283
Graduate Center Study Shows an Increasing Concentration of Household Income Among Upper Earning Households in the U.S.; Report Indicates Increased Income in Race/Ethnic Groups and Latino Nationalities

Report also finds disproportionate concentration of wealth among whites, earning 76 percent of all income

NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2014 The Graduate Center, City University of New York, announced a new study today that reports an increasing concentration of household income among upper earning households in the United States, while poorer American households had stagnant control of income.

Conducted by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies, the study, titled The Concentration of Household Income in the United States by Race/Ethnicity and Latino Nationalities, 1990 - 2010, finds that the wealthiest 20 percent of households controlled 48 percent of the total income in the U.S. in 2010, up from 44 percent in 1990. In contrast, the poorest 20 percent of households controlled 4 percent of the total income in both 1990 and 2010.

"The analyzed data provide unmistakable evidence that wealthiest became increasingly wealthier between 1990 and 2010 and that the process of wealth concentration was evident within each major race/ethnic group in the United States," said Laird W. Bergad, director of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies and a Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center and Lehmann College, CUNY.

The report uses the American Community Survey PUMS (Public Use Microdata Series) released by the Census Bureau and reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa.

At the very top of the household income earning hierarchy, the upper one percent of all households experienced an increase in their median incomes from $392,807 in 1990 to $509,250 in 2010. Among the upper 10 percent of households, median incomes rose from $177,760 to $217,644 over the same period. This may be contrasted with the poorest households in the United States. The lower 10 percent of households earned median household incomes of $10,560 in 1990 and $11,340 in 2010.

The data also indicate slight growth in concentration of wealth among the upper earning households within each major race/ethnic group. By 2010, the wealthiest 20 percent of non-Hispanic black households earned 49 percent of the total household income controlled by non-Hispanic blacks. Among the non-Hispanic white population, the upper 20 percent earned 48 percent of the household income controlled by non-Hispanic whites. Among Latino households, the wealthiest 20 percent earned 47 percent of the income derived by Latinos. The wealthiest 20 percent of Asian households earned 46 percent of the total household income that was controlled by Asians.

Among the five largest Latino national subgroups, slight growth in the concentration of income was evident among the wealthiest Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican households. The distribution of household income among Salvadorans did not change. Among the poorest households within each of the five largest Latino subgroups, there was stagnancy and/or decline in control of the total household income.

There were differences between race/ethnic groups in the concentration and distribution of income. Between 1990 and 2010, median household incomes were lowest among non-Hispanic black households, followed by Latino households. While Asian households had the highest median incomes of all race/ethnic groups, household income was disproportionately concentrated among non-Hispanic White households.

In 2010, non-Hispanic white households controlled 76 percent of household income in the U.S. although they comprised 65 percent of all households. Latino households, 17 percent of the total population, earned 11 percent of total household income. About seven percent of income went to non-Hispanic black households, who made up 13 percent of all households. Asian households, who were 5 percent of total population, earned 6 percent of total income—the only group that earned income nearly commensurate with their percentages of all households.

The Gini Index of Inequality in household income increased from .40 in 1990 to .44 in 2010, a certain statistical measure of rising income inequality.

Complete and detailed data for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Asians, and Latinos, as well as the largest Latino national subgroups in the U.S., are presented throughout the text and in the statistical appendix of the report.

About the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies
The Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies (CLACLS) promotes the study and understanding of Latin American and Caribbean cultures and the communities established in the United States, with a special focus on New York City, by peoples from this vast and extraordinarily diverse region. CLACLS researches and publishes innovative data-based studies focused upon New York City's and the nation's Latino communities, such as CLACLS' flagship Latino Data Project. The Latino Data Project provides the public with insights on various aspects of the New York City Latino experience.

About the Graduate Center
The Graduate Center's (GC) mission is to prepare the next generation of scholars for careers in the academy, cultural institutions, and public service, to carry out advanced research and scholarship, and to increase public understanding of pressing matters of local and global significance. Approximately 4,500 students are enrolled in forty doctoral and master's programs, sustained by a wide range of financial support. Recognized for its scholarly leadership across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, the GC is also a platform for influential public intellectuals, who, through the GC's public programs, inform and enliven debate, and enrich the cultural life of New York City.

Submitted on: DEC 11, 2014

Category: Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies | Press Room