Southern Arizona Cities and Towns Income and Earnings Report 2016

Jennifer Pullen, Research Economist

In 2016, income varied significantly across cities, towns, and census designated places located in Southern Arizona. Hereafter, when discussing multiple cities, towns, or census designated places (CDP) the general term places will be used. Residents in the towns of Marana and Oro Valley both had median incomes above $75,000, the highest among all the places in Southern Arizona. While those residing in the city of South Tucson had a median household income just above $20,000, the lowest among places in Southern Arizona. Of the 28 Southern Arizona places examined, only seven had median household incomes higher than the U.S. and Arizona levels of $55,322 and $51,340, respectively. Figures 1a and 1b explore median household income for the Southern Arizona places ranked highest to lowest.

Median household income is often viewed as one-way to gauge the economic well-being of a region. Household income provides information to local officials, businesses, and policy makers about the financial resources available to households and is closely linked to employment levels, educational attainment, and regional economic opportunities. Higher household incomes are commonly associated with a greater means of acquiring goods and services.

Figure 1a: Median Household Income for Top Ranking Southern Arizona Places (2016)

Figure 1b: Median Household Income for Bottom Ranking Southern Arizona Places (2016)

When exploring the distribution of income across brackets we find that in the state of Arizona 7.5% of households earned less than $10,000 in 2016, slightly higher than the U.S. share of 7.0%. Places in Southern Arizona with the largest shares of residents in the lowest income bracket are the cities of South Tucson, Nogales, and Douglas with 18.4%, 17.4%, and 16.5%, respectively. On the other end of the income spectrum, 5.7% of households in the U.S. earned a median income of $200,000 or more. The rate was slightly lower for the state of Arizona at 4.2%. The town of Oro Valley was the only place in Southern Arizona to post a higher rate of households earning $200,000 or more than the nation. Figure 2 below highlights the income distribution for each of the 28 places explored in Southern Arizona.

Figure 2:  Income Distribution for Households (2016)

During 2016, 77.7% of U.S. households reported earnings from work. The U.S. rate was three percentage points higher than the state of Arizona at 74.7%. Several Southern Arizona places exceeded the U.S. rate including those in the town of Clifton at 87.7%, residents of the city of Maricopa at 83.6%, and the cities of San Luis and Somerton at 87.3% and 83.6% respectively. Green Valley CDP reported the lowest rate of households earning income at 24.5%. Keep in mind that the Green Valley CDP is considered a retirement community therefore reducing earnings for households. Earnings include the sum of wages or salary income and net income from self-employment. Earnings represent the amount of income received regularly before deductions. Please note that earnings and income are separate concepts with income including earnings as well as interest, dividends, net rental income, royalty income, income from estates and trusts, social security, and transfer receipts (supplemental security income, public assistance such as welfare and disability, unemployment compensation, child support, and alimony). Figure 3 illustrates the percentage of households with reported earnings for the Southern Arizona places.

Figure 3: Reported Earnings for Households (2016)

In the state of Arizona, 32.6% of households received social security, a slightly higher rate than the nation at 30.2%. In Southern Arizona, more than half of the places explored in this article had social security rates higher than the U.S. (See Figure 4.) Green Valley CDP reported the highest rate of social security payments at 85.1%, this is not surprising given the large number of retirees in the area. Morenci CDP and the town of Clifton reported the lowest rates of social security payments at 12.0% and 16.1%, respectively. Mining is very important for both Morenci and Clifton, with mining and mineral processing employing up to two-thirds of the workforce (Arizona Commerce Authority, Community Profile). Morenci and Clifton also have a population with a low median age relative to many of the other Southern Arizona places, the state, and the U.S.

Figure 4: Percent of Households Receiving Social Security (2016)

Retirement income in Southern Arizona follows a pattern similar to social security, as we would expect. The U.S. percentage of residents receiving retirement income was 18.3 in 2016. Within Southern Arizona, 20 of the 27 places reported a higher rate of retirement income than the U.S. Retirement income generally flows to older residents. Several of the places explored in Southern Arizona report a substantially higher median age than the U.S. with Green Valley CDP leading the way at 72.2. Further, the cities of Benson and Bisbee, and towns of Oro Valley and Duncan all reported a median age near or over 50. More than half of the households in Green Valley CDP received retirement income in 2016, while places like Morenci, with a younger median age, tended to report low percentages of retirement income (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5: Percent of Households Receiving Retirement Income (2016)

Just over five percent of households in the U.S. received supplemental security income during 2016. This was slightly higher than the state of Arizona’s rate of 4.3%. Many of the places in Southern Arizona had supplemental security income rates near the U.S. and state rate, notable exceptions include the town of Duncan at 13.3% and city of South Tucson at 12.5%. The towns of Florence and Sahuarita, and the Green Valley CDP reported the lowest rates of supplemental security income received, averaging 2.4%. Supplemental security income is a federal income supplement program designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people (Social Security Administration). Figure 6 highlights the percentage of supplemental security income received by households for each of the Southern Arizona places.

Figure 6: Percent of Households Receiving Supplemental Security Income (2016)  

In 2016, 13.0% of U.S. households and 13.2% of households in Arizona received help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP offers nutritional assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families (United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service).  In Southern Arizona, there was wide variation in the percentage of households that received SNAP benefits. Green Valley CDP had the lowest percentage of households with SNAP assistance at 2.4%, while over 50.0% of households in the city of South Tucson received assistance. Overall, 15 of the 27 Southern Arizona places reported a higher percentage of SNAP assistance for households than the U.S. rate (See Figure 7.)

Figure 7: Percent of Households Receiving SNAP Assistance (2016)

To learn more about median household income at the metropolitan or state level visit the MAP Dashboard core indicator Median Household Income. Additional information about the Southern Arizona places, including median age, can be found in the recent Southern Arizona Cities and Towns Snapshot