While previous reports have shown New York as having the greatest income disparity among U.S. states, a new study by the Marist Bureau of Economic Research, found that Westchester, ahead of Rockland and Putnam Counties, ranks the highest in the state. Moreover, the study shows that, despite an increase in total jobs, the wage gap in the region is only growing.
“This is a major issue of concern,” says Christy Huebner Caridi, Director of the Bureau and Assistant Professor of Economics at Marist. “These findings clearly show the need for higher-paying jobs.”
A 2015 report released by the Bureau of Economic Research, showed that households that made $75,000 or more earned $6.30 for every dollar that households under $75,000 made. This is a common trend in the Hudson Valley, with Westchester reporting the most inequality.
In 2017, the average salary in Westchester across all private sectors was $70,209. The Marist study found that 65 percent of households earned less than this, averaging only $45,295, while 35 percent —2 percent fewer than in 2008 — earned an average of $116,168, a staggering $70,873 difference that has swelled by more than $9,000 over a ten-year period.
According to Caridi, the three largest employment sectors in the region are healthcare, retail, and social service. Two of the three, retail and social services, typically provide low-income wages. With that said, there is a growing need for developments in the region to provide higher paying jobs.
This past fall, Marist announced it will partner with HealthQuest to open Marist Health Quest School of Medicine, the first medical school in between Westchester and Albany. The school will bring in about 100 full-time jobs and multiple part-time jobs to the area, many of them serving as professional career opportunities.
“More developments like this are needed for the region to narrow the income gap,” explains Caridi. “The medical school will provide a platform for wage growth within the health care sector and related fields.”