On Tuesday, Opportunity Ohio released a “study” of the Ohio median income, stating that they fell $1200 from 2011 to 2012. Since the Ohio Liberty Coalition has been actively campaigning to defeat Governor Kasich for not adhering to their agenda 100%, they jumped on it and are pushing it out there as well.
While a $1200 drop in median income would certainly be bad news, the good news is that it isn’t accurate.
The first thing I noticed is that Opportunity Ohio’s income data in their article differs from the very source they footnote. Their first footnote cites this page on the Census Bureau’s website. If you click on “Median Household Income by State – Single-Year Estimates”, the chart does indeed show that the median Ohio household income in 2012 was $44,375.
However, Opportunity Ohio’s chart claims that the 2011 median income was $45,581, for a drop of $1200. However, the actual chart on the census bureau webpage shows the 2011 median income as $44,648, which would only be a drop of $273. Why did Opportunity Ohio publish a chart with data that is different than the source they are citing?
In any case, this is still not the most accurate data available, because Opportunity Ohio used data from the Current Population Survey (CPS). But there is a much more accurate survey that the Census Bureau also uses called the American Community Survey (ACS).
The ACS uses a much larger sample of households than the CPS, and is therefore much more accurate. The CPS includes about 60,000 households monthly. But the ACS is a monthly sample size of 250,000 households.
So what does the ACS say about Ohio median incomes? See the chart here.
ACS states that Ohio’s median income in 2011 was $46,610, and rose to $46,829 in 2012. That’s an increase of $219, NOT a $1200 drop as Opportunity Ohio reports. That represents 0.5% growth, which is fives times the growth rate of the median income for the U.S. as a whole. In fact, unlike Ohio, 24 states actually did see a drop in median income.
Want more proof that the ACS is more accurate than the CPS? Look at the margins of error published for both. The 2012 CPS margin of error for Ohio was $1723, or 3.9%. The margin in the ACS sample is only $293, or 0.6%. Case closed.
Another piece of good news is that according to the ACS, poverty in Ohio fell from 2011-2012, while it rose in the United States as a whole. In that time period, the number of Ohioans below the poverty level dropped by 21,172, but it rose nationally by 308,088.
One has to wonder why Opportunity Ohio and the OLC chose to use the less accurate set of data from the Census Bureau. Could it be that the smaller sample size, with its large amount of statistical noise, simply fit their agenda better? Both groups are doing their best to prevent Kasich from being reelected. Did they intentionally ignore the more accurate ACS data?
You be the judge.