Kingsport-Bristol, Johnson City MSA median household incomes see strong 2015 increases

Tri-Cities 2015 household incomes almost saw the same increase reported earlier this week on the national level.

U.S. median household income –  the point where half are above and half are below – was up 5.2% in the 2015 Census report.

The Kingsport-Bristol Metropolitan Statistical area had a 5.1% increase while the Johnson City MSA saw a 4.1% increase.

According to the 2015 Census Bureau numbers, the Kingsport-Bristol median family income is $41,206, up $1,993 from 2014. The increase in the Johnson City MSA was $1,575 to $40,388.

The increases are the largest since the Great Recession but didn’t quite close the gap in both Tri-Cities MSAs.

When 2015 numbers are compared to a 2008 Census benchmark, Kingsport-Bristol’s median household income is up 3.5% while the Johnson City MSA is 0.99% ($404) below what it was before the Great Recession hit the local economy.

And when you look at the average household income instead of the median a different picture emerges.

The most recent Johnson City MSA average is $56,652, up 3.9% from 2014 and 6.1% better that it was before the recession. Kingsport-Bristol’s new average is $56,652, up 4% from 2014 and 8.9% higher than it was before the recession.

Johnson City area workers made up from some of the post-recession wage losses with a 4.1% increase from the 2014 level. Kingsport-Bristol, which didn’t suffer as dramatic wage contraction in the 2012-2014 double-dip period, had a 1% increase in the median worker wage.

The double-dip reference comes from the region’s early recovery from the Great Recession only to begin a 24-month employment slump and average private sector wage reductions in the Johnson City MSA. During that period, Kingsport-Bristol assumed the position of the MSA with the higher average private sector wage.

There Johnson City MSA catchup is also evident in the median salary of full-time male workers. The 2015 median is $41,781, up 13.2% from 2014. In Kingsport-Bristol it’s $42,099, up 0.5%.

The situation was reversed for full-time Johnson City female workers. Their median wage dropped to $29,987 (2%) from $30,594 in 2015.

Full-time female workers in Kingsport-Bristol saw their median wage increase 1.9% to $32,055.

The number of those with Food Stamp/SNAP benefits in the past 12 months also declined from 2014 totals – down 9.8% in the Johnson City MSA and 4.5% in Kingsport Bristol. The data release shows 12,199 food stamp recipients during the past 12 months in the three-county Johnson City MSA and 22,703 in Kingsport-Bristol. The numbers have increased significantly from 2008 when there were 8,223 recipients in the Johnson City MSA and 17,023 in Kingsport-Bristol.

The number of people receiving cash public assistance has also decreased. Kingsport-Bristol saw the biggest decline 24.8%, while the Johnson City MSA decline was 2.5%. The number of cash public assistance recipients in the Johnson City MSA in 2015 was 1,417. It was 4,988 in Kingsport-Bristol. The year before the recession there were 896 Johnson City MSA residents receiving cash public assistance and 3,440 in Kingsport-Bristol.

Poverty rates didn’t change much during the 2015-2014 period.

The Johnson City MSA all families rate was 14.6% unchanged from 2014. The all people poverty rate was 19.8%, down from 20.4%.

In the four-county Kingsport-Bristol MSA the all families poverty rate was 13.1% down from 13.6% in 2014. The all people in poverty rate was 17.6%, down from 18.2





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  1. Sullivan Co. household incomes up 9.8%, Washington Co. up 5.9%; area self-employment down – Core Data