LaGRANGE — New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week shows the income of Troup County residents shrank in 2014 while the number of residents with health insurance increased.
Median household income in Troup County dropped by more than $3,000 last year to $40,486 from $43,642 in 2013, according to the bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey, which was released Thursday.
Although the income level dropped, it is up from a five-year low of $36,739 in 2012. The median income for individual workers over the age of 16 in Troup County also raised to $28,039 in 2014; in 2013, workers earned an average of $27,308. Men, on average, earned nearly $10,000 more than women last year.
The national median household income in 2014 was $53,657, which is not statistically different from 2013, according to the U.S. Census. The data suggests wages nationwide are stagnant, but in Troup are falling.
Median is the middle point in a set of numbers. Average, also called mean, is when the complete data set is added and then divided by the total number of data points; mean is different from median.
The average Troup County household income in 2014 was $53,454, a sharp decline from $67,486 in 2013. The variance between the average and median household incomes may indicate significant concentrations of wealth on the high end of the spectrum, according to Greg McClanahan, a professor of mathematics at LaGrange College.
Income inequality dropped in Troup County in 2014 to 372nd out of 817 total sample areas nationwide. Bibb County — home to Macon — ranked highest in Georgia at 8th place nationwide. Income inequality, measured by the Gini Coefficient, measures the difference in concentration of wealth between the highest and lowest earners.
Nearly 19 percent of area residents live at or below the federal poverty line, down from 26.3 percent last year. About 27 percent of Troup County’s African-Americans live in poverty, versus 13 percent of the county’s whites. Poverty in both whites and African Americans is down, with African-Americans making the most substantial gains; in 2013, 44 percent of African-Americans lived in poverty. The highest frequency of poverty, 45.7 percent, is among people who do not have a high school education or the equivalent. Nationally, 14.8 percent — 46.7 million people — live in poverty.
Poverty, as defined by the federal government, is a family of four living on less than $23,850 per year, or $11,670 for a person living alone.
About 38 percent of Troup residents 25 and older had at least a high school diploma in 2014; additionally, 10 percent had a bachelor’s degree. Women were more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than men, with 10.4 percent compared to men at 9.6 percent. In the United States as a whole, 18.7 percent of adults over 25 had bachelor’s degrees in 2014.
About 9,600 — 14.2 percent — of Troup’s 68,000 residents lacked health insurance in 2014, down slightly from 14.4 percent in 2013. In 2010, before the passage of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, 20.6 percent of Troup residents — about one in five — were without health insurance. The highest concentration, 22 percent, of uninsured residents were people ages 18 to 64.
More than half of Troup households with children under the age of 18 received food stamps last year — 50.2 percent, the survey shows. The data also indicates Troup residents are moving away from food stamps. In 2013, 65.5 percent of households with children under the age of 18 benefited from nutritional assistance programs. In fact, 2014’s 50.2 percent rate is a five-year low.
People who rent a home in Troup County pay an average monthly rate of $814 while homeowners pay a monthly average of $788, the survey said. Homeowners are likely to earn more money in Troup, averaging a household income of nearly $50,000 in 2014, while renters earned slightly more than $32,000. The largest percentage of renters — 22.5 percent — paid their landlords between $1,000 and $1,499 each month in 2014. About 13,500 homes were occupied by the homeowner and an additional 10,366 were rental properties. 17,074 homes had subscriptions to the Internet while 5,739 lack Internet access. The survey estimates 85 households in the county used dial-up Internet access during 2014.
Most people in Troup County spend less than 20 minutes commuting to work each morning, with the highest concentration — about 7,000 people — commuting between 15 and 20 minutes. The most common commuting time is 7:30 to 8 a.m. About 28,000 people commute each work day, the survey said.
The survey estimates 69,469 people lived in Troup County in 2014. Among that population, 41,011 people are white and 24,534 are African-Americans.
The American Community Survey compiles detailed data on every American county with a population of more than 65,000 and is released yearly. For a complete data set, visit http://factfinder.census.gov and use the “advanced search” tab to query “Troup County, Georgia.”
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached by calling 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.