Skagit County Trends Newsletter

HOUSEHOLD INCOME DISTRIBUTION SLIGHTLY MORE EQUAL THAN WASHINGTON OR THE U.S. -

Anneliese Vance-Sherman photo
Vance-Sherman

In 2017, there were a record 169 billionaires were "too poor" to make the Forbes 400 list. Elsewhere in the nation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 2017 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness reported the number of people in America experiencing homelessness increased for the first time in seven years.

The previous statements drastically compare income and wealth at each end of the spectrum. A more complete approach at understanding the differences is to look at the entire population. The Trends contain a measure that how much income the entire population of households, divided into equally sized groups, is bringing in annually. From there, assessments can be made by policy makers, as this indicator can provide insight into the number of households who might be in need of social assistance in one form or another throughout the year.

Income Distribution, or the Trends' Share of Total Overall Income Earned by Household Income Level, might appear complicated, but a brief explanation should help it offer a wealth of insight. Specifically, the indicator divides a population of households into 5 equal parts, or quintiles. Next, each group is labeled: the lowest 20% of earners, the highest 20% of earners, and each of the three group's in-between.

Consequently, the graph shows the share of the total income earned in Skagit County by each of the five groups.

In short during 2016, the lowest 20% of all earners in Skagit County collectively claimed about 4.1% of all the income claimed in the county - a slightly larger share than claimed by this group in the state and U.S. On the other end of the spectrum, the highest 20% of earners collectively garnered about 46.9% of the total income earned in the county - a smaller share than in either the state or U.S.

Anneliese Vance-Sherman, Ph.D., regional labor economist with the Washington State Employment Security Department, added "Over the time period evaluated in this display, I see quite a bit of stability. The U.S., Washington State and Skagit County all change very little in terms of composition from one year to the next, and the overall patterns are very similar between the three geographies.

Vance-Sherman also said there are wealthy households in Skagit County, but compared to some of the highest household incomes in not only the state but in neighboring counties, the wealthiest of households in Skagit County, "are probably more homogeneous or similar to each other with respect to the range of incomes reflected in the data, and are likely not influenced to the same extent by extremely wealthy outliers."

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