Johnson City leads region in growth of lower-income households

Johnson City led the other major Tri-Cities cities in the increase of lower-income households during the 2008-2015 recovery from the Great Recession.  In many ways that recovery is still underway. This lower-income households trend follows the pattern in the changes in the middle and higher-income households reviewed in earlier posts. Links to those reports are at the bottom of this post.



Lower-income households for this study are the Census Bureau’s income ranges of Less than $10,000 a year; $10,000 to $14,999; and $15,000 to $24,999.

During the study period, the number of households in these income ranges increased in Bristol, TN, Johnson City and Kingsport. The share of total households also increased.

The increase and share is noteworthy when you consider that while Johnson City has about 19% more population than Kingsport it has almost double the number of lower-income households. It’s also noteworthy that while Johnson City has the highest share of lower-income households, it also has the highest share of higher-income households, but trails both Bristol and Kingsport in the share of households in the middle-income ranges.

Lower-income households increased by 12.7% during the study period – 2,402 households. Of the three income ranges the largest growth came in $10,000 to $14,999 range, up 14.1% followed by the upper $15,000 to $24,999 range – up 12.7%. The bottom range $10,000 and below increased 8.1%.

One of the first questions that come to mind when looking at this grouping of households by income is how does it relate to the poverty rates.

It’s not an easy question because the poverty rate is based on individuals and not households.

However, here’s a snapshot of each city’s total lower-income households compared to the 2015 percentage of all people whose income was below the poverty level during the same period.

Bristol – 31.9% – 16.2%

Johnson City – 44.7% – 23.1%

Kingsport – 34.3% – 20.1%


Johnson City had the highest number of higher-income households and had the largest gain 2008-2015

Johnson City leads lower middle-income Tri-Cities growth; Bristol has largest share of middle-income households

Johnson City, Kingsport eek out 2015 population gains; demographic issue weighs on local economy 








  1. […] rapidly aging population. During the resetting of the economy, Kingsport’s share of low-income households has remained steady with the 2008 share. But the share in Johnson City and Bristol has increased. At […]

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