A Map Of New York's Changing Income

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What do you see when you map income changes from 2007 to 2012 in New York City by neighborhood? Gentrification in Brooklyn and Harlem -- and the effect of the financial crash on the middle class. Andrew Beveridge, professor of sociology at Queens College, and the man behind Social Explorer, discusses the data and the story it tells us.


What We Learned This Segment

  • Beveridge points out that the large drop is really in the middle class. Our safety net hasn't fully collapsed, and the very top end is recovering well -- but “people in the middle have really taken the hit."
  • What do we make of the 12% decline on the UWS? Remember, this map shows median income. So the likelihood is that the neighborhood is suffering from a decline in the middle. So even though housing values are way way up, and Wall Street is recovering, the middle in that neighborhood is what accounts for the big drop.
  • Don’t be fooled by increases in neighborhoods like Bushwick. The incomes are still very low - in Bushwick the median is still well below $40,000 a year.
  • In Williamsburg, there are more factors than just gentrification. There’s a relatively stable Hasidic community, and lots of housing projects, pulling the data in different directions.
  • Beveridge points out that often times the places that gentrify are the places with very good housing stock and were once prosperous. This is the story of Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant. 
  • This map doesn't tell the story of turnover. In gentrifying neighborhoods, it's difficult to tell from census data like this how much wealthier people are moving in, and how much the income of existing residents is rising.
  • What does this say about the Bill de Blasio “tale of two cities”? Did inequality narrow? Beverege says no – this doesn’t reflect the top 5-10%, who may have gotten much wealthier. The story here really is about shifts in the middle.