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Nassau first, Suffolk third in 2017 median income in NYS, Census Bureau says

The data also show that more than 31 percent of residents with mortgages in each of the two counties spent 35 percent or more of their household income on monthly housing costs.

A neighborhood in Nassau County near Hempstead Turnpike.

A neighborhood in Nassau County near Hempstead Turnpike. Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Median household incomes in Nassau and Suffolk counties for 2017 again ranked first and third in New York State, and Nassau remained the only county where the figure topped $100,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.

The $108,133 median income in Nassau put it first among the state's 39 counties that met the 65,000 or more population threshold covered in the bureau's American Community Survey. Overall, the state has 62 counties.

Suffolk County ranked third with a median income of $94,750, behind Putnam County's $99,479 and ahead of Westchester's $90,578. The two Long Island counties' median incomes did not show a significant statistical difference from 2016.

While the Island's median income was far higher than the national median of $61,372, the bureau's American Community Survey illustrated the effect of high housing costs in the two-county region.

For example, the bureau reported that just over 31 percent of both Nassau and Suffolk county residents with a mortgage spent 35 percent or more of their household income on monthly housing costs. Experts generally suggest people shouldn't spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, whether for rent or, if a homeowner, on mortgage, taxes and insurance.

Though there was little change between 2016 and 2017 in the percentage of Long Islanders paying 35 percent or more of their monthly income for housing costs, there was a statistically significant decline during the five-year period of 2013 to 2017, according to the bureau's survey.

In Nassau, 36.1 percent of residents paid 35 percent or more of their monthly income on housing costs in 2013, and by 2017 that dropped to 31.2 percent. In Suffolk, the percentage went from 37.6 percent in 2013 to 31.6 percent in 2017.

The percentage that Nassau and Suffolk residents paid for housing costs was substantially higher than those nationally and in the state. Nearly 21 percent of homeowners with a mortgage nationwide and almost 26 percent in the state are estimated to pay 35 percent or more of their income on housing costs.

However, when looking at the greater metropolitan area — which includes New York and portions of New Jersey and Pennsylvania — the housing cost percentages in Nassau and Suffolk were statistically in line with the percentage paid by homeowners in the larger area, which was 30 percent.

Nationally, the bureau said median household income was lower than the U.S. median in 29 states and higher than the U.S. median in 18 states, which included New York. The state's median income was $64,894 in 2017, not statistically different from the year before, when it was $64,139.

The one-year American Community Survey provides statistics on a wide range of topics for communities with populations of 65,000 and up.

"It gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services," David Waddington, chief of the bureau's Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division, said in a statement.

The data also included health insurance coverage rates and the poverty rate.

The percentage of people without health insurance in Nassau was 4.8 percent in 2017. That was higher than the 4.2 percent uninsured rate in the county in 2016, but the bureau said that was not a statistically significant difference.

Suffolk did register a statistically significant, one-year change that brought its uninsured rate more in line with Nassau's, to 4.5 percent in 2017, down from 5.4 percent in 2016.

The percentage of those without health insurance has "decreased significantly inside metropolitan areas" between 2013 and 2017, Edward Berchick, a bureau demographer, said in an interview.

The rate dropped from 14.4 percent in 2013 to 8.6 percent in 2017. However, between 2016 and 2017, the bureau noted there was a 0.2 percent increase for those living in metropolitan areas, but no statistically significant change in the health insurance coverage rate for people outside metropolitan areas during that period. He wouldn't speculate on the slight uptick, which he said was a statistically significant difference.

"We provide data to coverage trends, but we do not speculate as to causes," Berchick said.

The 2017 poverty rate for Nassau was 6 percent, while in Suffolk it was 6.8 percent, according to the bureau. Neither showed a statistically significant change from 2016.

Census snapshot

Median household income

Nassau

2017: $108,133

2016: $108,176

Suffolk

2017: $94,750

2016: $94,754

Percentage without health insurance

Nassau

2017: 4.8 percent

2016: 4.2 percent

Suffolk

2017: 4.5 percent

2016: 5.4 percent

Poverty rate

Nassau

2017: 6 percent

2016: 5.9 percent

Suffolk

2017: 6.8 percent

2016: 7.3 percent

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

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