Learn More: Per Capita Income

What does this mean?

Per Capita Income is an estimate of the average income per person in a particular area. Every man, woman, and child living in a particular area is included in the calculation.

The American Community Survey considers the following to be counted as income:

  • Wage or salary income (including bonuses and tips)
  • Self-employment income
  • Interest, dividends, net rental income, royalty income, income from estates and trusts
  • Social Security or Railroad Retirement income
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Public assistance or welfare payments income
  • Retirement, survivor, or disability pensions
  • All other income (includes unemployment, Veteran's Administration payments, alimony, child support, contributions received periodically from people not living in the household, military family allotments, and other kinds of periodic income other than earnings)

The ACS only uses the income of all people 15 years old and over.

Definitions taken from the U.S. Census Bureau Census Data Information Income Clicking on this link will result in leaving the Community Atlas website., Household Income, Per Capita Income, and Persons Below Poverty Clicking on this link will result in leaving the Community Atlas website. and American Community Survey Subject Definitions Clicking on this link will result in leaving the Community Atlas website..

Why is it important?

It can be important to understand per capita income because it can help to explain the characteristics of a community and its needs. Although this is an estimate, it can be used to compare one geographic area to other parts of the county, state or nation to describe economic conditions.

How are the data collected (methods)?

Every year the U.S. Census Bureau conducts the American Community Survey (ACS), which is a nationwide survey that collects and produces information on demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics about our nation's population. The U.S. Census Bureau contacts over 3.5 million households across the country each year to participate in the ACS. The sample is designed to ensure good geographic coverage in order to produce a good picture of the community's people and housing by surveying a representative sample of the population.

The data from the American Community Survey are made public through the U.S. Census Bureau Clicking on this link will result in leaving the Community Atlas website. website.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey Clicking on this link will result in leaving the Community Atlas website.

Caveats and Limitations

  • The data presented are from the American Community Survey, which represents an estimate of the characteristics of the entire nation, based on the sampling of individuals selected to take the survey. Because it is an estimate, there might be disagreement over the methods used by the U.S. Census Bureau to calculate that estimate.
  • We chose to use the 5-year estimates for 2007-2011 to include on this component of the Community Atlas because it is most appropriate for smaller geographic areas such as neighborhoods. The single year estimates are more current, but it is often less reliable and not recommended for use when analyzing such small populations. If you choose to use this data, please keep in mind that it is an estimate.
  • The data has been reapportioned from the original boundaries provided to us in order to develop estimates for neighborhoods and communities. This has been done because not all data is reported for the same boundaries as the neighborhoods and communities on the Community Atlas. When using these data, view them as estimates for these neighborhoods and communities.
  • Per Capita Income is calculated for all individuals within a specific geographic area, including children. It should not be considered representative of family or household income. It should be used only as a basic and standardized way of comparing income in different geographic areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Additional Information

  • Decennial Census - About the Data - Explains the decennial census: why it is important, what data is collected, and how the data is used.
  • U.S. Census Bureau - Serves as the leading source of quality data about the nation's people and economy; the results of the decadal census are used to determine political representation at the federal and state level.
  • U.S. Census Bureau Glossary of Terms - Searchable list of terms used to describe demographic data.