Published by Carson on March 12, 2019

A new statistical analysis completed by shows race and per-person income are associated on a neighborhood level in Santa Ana more than any other large city (150k+) in the United States. Garden Grove, Long Beach, and Costa Mesa also top the list, as do satellite cities including Oxnard and Palmdale.

Los Angeles Race vs. Income by Neighborhood

The map above transitions between race and per capita income in Los Angeles. Blue areas are predominantly white neighborhoods, gold for Hispanic neighborhoods, and red for Asian neighborhoods. Darker shades indicate a higher percent of that race in an area. On the income map, red areas are low income, green areas are high income, and purple areas are the top 1% of neighborhoods in the US for personal income.

We examined positive and negative correlations by race in every US neighborhood, and found this area of the country stands out most. In each of these communities the percent of white people living in an area is strongly associated with higher per capita income, and the percent of Hispanic people living in the area is associated with lower per capita income. The negative correlation between race and per capita income also exists in Asian communities, though not to the same extent.

Statistics aside, the differences along racial lines are visually stark and easy to see. The map is centered on Santa Ana, where you can clearly see that darker gold areas (areas with a higher % of Hispanic residents) also tend to be the deepest red areas (areas with low per-capita incomes). Areas in blue (where the majority of the neighborhood is white) suddenly shift to green (high income). In fact some of the darkest blue areas on the map are neighborhoods in the top 1% for per-capita income in the US (purple). The mostly-white Floral Park area near the I-5 (excluding homes close to 17th St.) is an island of extreme wealth. Click on any of the links to see more details and zoom in on specific areas. For example, open the Santa Ana Racial map in one tab and the same city's per capita income map in another, then swap between them.

The scatterplot illustrates in another way how income and race are related.

Los Angeles Race vs. Income Scatterplot

Show definitions

Race comes from self-selected data on the US Census and American Community Survey.

Per capita income is the median income for a person in the neighborhood. When analyzing neighborhoods averages are generally a poor metric, as a few people with very high and low income can skew the data.

Neighborhood and communities were analyzed by census block group, the smallest statistically area for which reliable up-to-date information is available for race and income. There are over 220,000 census block groups in the US.

Racial segregation is a phrase commonly used in academia. The term does not necessarily mean segregation by law, which is illegal in the United States. These are neighborhoods that are segregated in that races are “set apart from each other; isolated or divided.” The causes for racial segregation are complex, and largely beyond the scope of this analysis (though perhaps still worth discussing).

Correlation, association, or alignment all refer to the r-squared formula: how much do the X values (e.g. percent white) coincide with the Y values (per capita income). It would be wise to avoid rushing to judgement as to what this means. E.g. we have not found that Los Angeles is more racist. Living in one of these neighborhoods does not mean you'll make less money. We've only found that minority communities in the cities above are also lower-income communities on average. It's very possible that Hispanic people in other cities make less money, but if those areas are not as racially segregated this type of area-based comparison would not be as clear.

Journalists and writers: images and data are free to use with citation. This is an open and statistically-centered work to highlight a current fact rarely discussed in the US. Contact us if you need more information.