Incomes up, commutes down

The 2016 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census shows that in Fairfield County, including Wilton, incomes have gone up and commuting times have come down a little.

While Wilton is not specifically studied in this version of the ACS, because its population is too small, the Fairfield County area as a whole is considered and that reflects on Wilton.

“I saw the report from the Census Bureau about median household income as well as one indicating that middle-class incomes reached their highest level ever in 2016,” said economist Steven Glazer of Norwalk Community College, who identified the pattern as part of a national trend.

In Fairfield County, the median household income grew to $90,123 in 2016 from $87,051 the year before, an increase of 3.5%.

The unemployment rate in the county was 6.9%, down from 7.7% a year earlier.

Those commuting to jobs grew to 467,797 from 461,100, an increase of 1.4%. Only about one in 10 used public transportation, the same as the previous year. Six percent worked from home, an increase from 5.2% the previous year.

The average time it took to get to work was 30.2 minutes, down a little from 30.6 minutes the previous year.

Fewer than one in 10, 8.4%, had their own unincorporated business, an increase from 8.1% the previous year.

More than one in 10, 10.6%, worked in retail, and 11.2% worked in the high-paying finance and insurance, real estate and rental and leasing sector.

Nearly one in 10, 8.1%, worked in food services, hotels, recreation, entertainment and the arts.

The number of people with health insurance grew to 92.2%, up from 90.6%. Of those with insurance, nearly a third, 31.5%, had public coverage such as Obamacare.

Those living at poverty level grew a little. In 2016, 6.3% of all families in the county had income below the poverty level, up from 6.1% the previous year.

Overall, it shows commuting time is an unfortunate experience for many in the county, Glazer said.

“The congested roads have long been an issue for this area,” he said. The people who commute must “plan accordingly in performing their normal routines. Also, as we have been experiencing higher gas prices these past few weeks in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it might cause some people to reconsider driving as much due to the increased expense tied in with sitting in traffic and burning gas. Overall, though, as we have had relatively low gas prices the past few years, it does not seem to be detrimental to the local economy.”