Cluster US Incomes for Data Insights

The median household income in the US was $52,250 in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. Chances are that number leaves you feeling rich, poor, or average. Though the number is based on millions of households, it’s too boiled down to mean much.

On the other hand, if you had a list of the more than 100 million household incomes, that wouldn’t help much, either. County medians, plus BatchGeo’s clustering technology, turns out to be a great way to gain insights from the data.

View 2013 Median US Household Income in a full screen map

At the initial zoom level, you should see around a dozen clusters represented by pie charts and a dollar figure. The pie slices show the ratio of counties within each cluster that fall within each income range. The dollar value for each cluster is the average of the county medians. While it’s not weighted by population, it should give a good snapshot of income across the country.

Incomes are highest along the west and east coasts. Zoom, click, and filter the map to start gaining deeper insights. For example, California accounts for a lot of the high average along the west, though the Salt Lake City and Denver / Colorado Springs areas also have high median incomes. There’s a similar cluster along the northeast, as well.

Throughout the south the averages of county medians are lower, but you can also see the ratio of lower range salaries are much higher, especially in the southeast. If you zoom in, you’ll see large sections of Mississippi and Alabama that are entirely made up of the lowest ranges. By comparison, California has only three counties with median incomes below $40,000 (the bottom three ranges).

Switch to grouping by poverty level and the pattern becomes clearer. You don’t need to perform advanced statistical analysis to see the correlation between high poverty levels and low median incomes. Just filter to the highest levels of poverty and you’ll see clusters emerge in lower income places. The averages of the clusters are similarly much lower. Also, other than a few outliers, you won’t find many counties in the higher income regions.

These insights may not surprise you, but the point is that the clustered, averaged map helps show the trends visually. Though this example uses publicly-available data, imagine if it was sales prospects or other data specific to your business. By including all the data at whatever granularity you have available, BatchGeo can then bring out insights at a regional level using clustering, grouping and averages.