Focus on Poverty in New York City

Research & Policy | June 7th 2017

A new report by the NYU Furman Center, Focus on Poverty, analyzes poverty and its spatial concentration in New York City, including recent changes in poverty across neighborhoods and demographic groups. According to the report, neighborhood concentration of poverty has worsened in the past five years, though remains below its 2000 levels. Conditions in high-poverty neighborhoods are starkly different than those in the city’s low-poverty areas.
 
The analysis was released as part of the NYU Furman Center's annual State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2016. The report, along with the NYU Furman Center’s CoreData.nyc, provides a compendium of data and analysis about the city's housing and neighborhoods.
 
Since the 1980s, New York City’s poverty rate has generally hovered between 19-21%, and remains higher than the national rate—especially for children and seniors. Using 2011-2015 data, the report finds that nearly 1.7 million New Yorkers were living in poverty.

More than half of the neighborhoods in the Bronx are high poverty or extreme poverty areas, less than 7% are on Staten Island and less than 4% are in Queens.
 
The study finds stark differences in neighborhood conditions between high-poverty and low-poverty areas. New York City’s higher-poverty neighborhoods have higher violent crime rates, poorer performing schools, and fewer adults who are college educated or employed. There are also significant differences in who is living in these neighborhoods. Poor black and Hispanic New Yorkers and poor children are much more likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods than other poor New Yorkers.
 
In roughly 20% of New York City neighborhoods at least 30% of households are living below the federal poverty line. Even more troubling: the report finds that this poverty concentration—the extent to which poor New Yorkers are living in neighborhoods with other poor New Yorkers—worsened between 2010 and 2015. Neighborhoods housing 16.5% of New York City residents saw their poverty rate increase by more than 10 percentage points between 2010 and 2015; fewer neighborhoods (home to 2.6% of New Yorkers) saw a drop in poverty rate of this magnitude.
 
The poverty rate in New York City is higher than the U.S. poverty rate—particularly for children and seniors. While 30% of New York City children were poor in 2011-2015, just 22% were poor nationally. The poverty rate for seniors in New York City (18%) is twice the poverty rate in the U.S. (9%). The report also identified significant racial disparities among those living in poverty; poor black and Hispanic New Yorkers are much more likely to be poor than white and Asian New Yorkers.

 

Read the report: Focus on Poverty (PDF)

Read the State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods in 2016 or view the indicators on CoreData.nyc.

LAUNCH EVENT: To mark the launch of the report, the NYU Furman Center will host an event, By the Numbers: Concentrated Poverty, on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. EDT at NYU School of Law. Open to the public, but advance registration required. Also available on livestream, which will be broadcast from 4:00-6:00 p.m. EDT.

 

Focus on Poverty: Key Findings


There were 1.7 million New Yorkers living in poverty in 2011-2015.

  • About 1.7 million New Yorkers lived below the poverty line in 2011-2015. This number is larger than the population of Philadelphia or Phoenix, and would be the country’s 7th largest city if ranked separately.
  • The overall poverty rate in New York City has remained relatively steady since 1980, hovering at around 20%. There was a slight decline between 2000 and 2006-2011 (21.2% to 19.1%) but the poverty rate rose to 20.6% in 2011-2015.

 
The poverty rate is higher in New York City than it is in the nation, especially for children and seniors.

  • In New York City, 30% of children were poor in 2011-2015 compared to 22% nationally.
  • About 18% of senior New Yorkers lived below the poverty line in 2011-2015, twice the national senior poverty rate of 9%.
  • Poverty rates by racial and ethnic groups do not mirror national trends. In New York City, 20% of Asian New Yorkers were poor compared to 14% nationally; 22% of black New Yorkers were living below the poverty line compared to 27% nationally; 29%  of Hispanic New Yorkers were more poor compared to 25% nationally; and 12% of white New Yorkers were living below the poverty line compared to 11% nationally. 

 
Compared to non-poor New Yorkers, poor New Yorkers are less likely to have a high school degree, less likely to be employed, and are more likely to be disabled.

  • In 2011-2015, nearly one in five poor New Yorkers aged 25 or older did not have a high school degree compared to 10% of non-poor New Yorkers.
  • Over a third of poor, working aged New Yorkers (aged 16 to 64) were employed compared to 77% of non-poor New Yorkers in 2011-2015.
  • About 15% of poor New Yorkers were disabled compared to 9% of non-poor New Yorkers in 2011-2015.

 
Poverty concentration—the extent to which poor New Yorkers are living in neighborhoods with other poor New Yorkers—increased in New York City between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, though remained below its 2000 levels. 

  • In 2015, about 27.5% of New York City neighborhoods were low-poverty (poverty rate of zero to 10%); 52.8% were moderate-poverty (poverty rate between 10% and 30%); 11% were high-poverty (poverty rate between 30% and 40%); and 8.7% were extreme-poverty (poverty rate over 40%).
  • The share of poor New Yorkers living in extreme-poverty neighborhoods fell between 2000 (25.4%) and 2006-2010 (19.4%), but has risen since then (23.5% in 2011-2015).

 
Between 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, over 17% of neighborhoods saw a 10 percentage point increase in their poverty rate.

  • 64 neighborhoods in New York City (home to 2.6% of the population – about 216,000 New Yorkers) saw a decrease in their poverty rate of 10 percentage points or more; 356 neighborhoods (home to 16.5% of the population – about 1,366,000 New Yorkers) experienced an increase in their poverty rates of 10 percentage points or more.

 
Neighborhood conditions vary significantly based on the level of poverty in a neighborhood. Higher poverty neighborhoods have higher violent crime rates, poorer performing schools, and fewer adults who are college educated.

  • In 2011-2015, high- and extreme-poverty neighborhoods experienced more than three times as much serious violent crime as low-poverty neighborhoods (7.5 serious violent crimes per 1,000 residents versus 2.2 serious violent crimes per 1,000 residents). 
  • 52% of residents aged 25 or older in low-poverty neighborhoods had a college degree compared to 13% in extreme-poverty areas.

 
Poor black and Hispanic New Yorkers are much more likely to live in higher poverty neighborhoods than poor white and Asian New Yorkers.

  • Over half of poor black and poor Hispanic New Yorkers lived in a high- or extreme-poverty neighborhood in 2011-2015. About 23 percent of poor Asian New Yorkers and about 30 percent of poor white New Yorkers lived in a high- or extreme-poverty neighborhood in 2011-2015.
  • While more than half of fourth grade students in 2014 performed at grade level in math in low poverty neighborhoods, a quarter or less were at grade level in schools in high- and extreme-poverty neighborhoods.  There are similar disparities for English language tests.


Children are more likely to live in higher poverty neighborhoods than adults or seniors.

  • 30% of all children in New York City lived in a high- or extreme-poverty neighborhood in 2011-2015. 54.1% of poor children in New York City lived in a high- or extreme-poverty neighborhood in 2011-2015.
  • Children were the least likely to live in low poverty neighborhoods (21% of children live in a low-poverty neighborhood). 


 

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