Miami below average in income, education, census study shows
Miami’s differences from most other areas of the United States show up in more than palm trees, broad beaches and global recognition: the differences become abundantly clear in economic and social characteristics as measured by the US Census Bureau.
The latest annual edition of the bureau’s American Community Survey, released in December, shows broad gaps in income and educational levels, language use, ethnicities, insurance benefits and far more.
The census figures are presented simply as numbers and percentages, open to interpretations of both cause and effect of the gaps between Miami-Dade County and a vast nation of which it comprises less than 1% of the population. Nor does the survey show changes over time – it is merely a snapshot of the community as it was in 2019, when the data were compiled.
But the data can be viewed to interpret community needs, assets and opportunities. Views can also help us understand why Miami-Dade is able to attract some new job-producing companies but is unable to interest others as they either expand locations or seek new headquarters sites.
Those census figures find Miami-Dade lagging behind the nation as a whole in income levels, educational attainments, insurance coverage and use of the English language. Those figures might help explain why the county in recent years has attracted far more lower-income warehouse jobs but was ruled out recently by Goldman Sachs as the firm is seeking to move a large division from Manhattan to South Florida.
The most closely viewed population characteristic has long been ethnicity: Miami-Dade becomes more Hispanic as the populations of both non-Hispanic Black and white residents shrink.
The needle moved little in this survey as the population was reported 69.4% Hispanic – almost exactly the same as the 2018 report. The Black population ticked down from 17.1% to 16.8%, the non-Hispanic white population was 12.8%, down from 12.9% in 2018, while the Asian population held at 1.6% and the American Indian population did the same at 0.2%. Those of two or more races rose from 1.7% in 2018 to 1.9% in 2019.
Of the total 69.4% Hispanic population, 36.3 percentage points were of Cuban heritage, 3.6 points Puerto Rican, 2.2 Mexican and 27.3 other.
Education saw a large divide between Miami-Dade and the nation as a whole. Far more persons here fail to complete high school, and at all levels from high school through graduate school Miami-Dade also lags. Even among foreign born residents nationally, this community’s foreign-born fail to achieve the educational levels of their national counterparts.
Language usage at home in Miami-Dade is the mirror image of the nation as a whole. Nationally, 78% speak English at home, 22% another language, and 8.2% say they speak English less than very well. In Miami-Dade, 76% speak another language at home and 24% speak English, with 34.7% saying they speak English less than very well.
Nearly a fifth of all residents of the county above age 25 have not completed high school, compared with 11.4% nationally. Our 26.1% who went through high school but no further trails the national 26.9%, the 23.6% with some college trails the 28.6% nationally, the 19.3% who completed college but went no further is below the 20.3% nationally, and the 11.4% who went graduate school is below the 12.8% nationally.
In its overview of the nation, the American Community Survey found that counties in the Northeast had a higher percentage of people with bachelor’s degrees than all regions in the nation as well as the highest percentage point increase in bachelor’s degree attainments.
The national survey also found that the poverty rate in the nation was 11.3%. The survey found that 15.6% in Miami-Dade were below the poverty level, that another 22.3% were less than double the poverty wage rate versus 16.6% nationally, and that only 62.1% here have incomes of more than double the poverty rate, versus 71.1% at that level nationally.
Household incomes here were found far below the national levels. Miami-Dade had 73,212 households with incomes of less than $10,000, which is 8% of the households versus 6.5% nationally.
Miami-Dade likewise had far larger slices of households in each bracket earning from $10,000 to $34,999 than did the nation as a while. On the other hand, in income brackets from $75,000 up Miami-Dade trailed the national percentages every time.
The US median income for the period was $62,843. Miami-Dade’s was $51,347, which was actually below the level the survey had found in the county in 2018 of $52,205. And the county’s per capita income of $29,760 was below the national level of $32,397.
The county had 83.7% of residents with health insurance coverage, trailing the national level of 91.3%.
Miami-Dade at the time of the survey was well ahead of the nation as a whole in one significant positive figure: only 3.5% here were unemployed, far better than the 5.3% rate nationally. The pandemic has altered this to the point that the county’s current 7.4% unemployment rate is its best since March.