Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Report: Lawrence incomes lag behind

September 7, 2006


Another report is out that shows Lawrence residents don't make as much as those in many other communities.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released personal income numbers - which measure wages and other income such as investments - that show Lawrence continues to be below several of the state's larger cities.

The Lawrence metropolitan area had a per capita income of $29,536, ranking it 192nd of 361 metro areas in the country.

Total personal income grew by 4.4 percent in 2005. That growth rate was slightly below the national average of 5 percent but still outpaced the inflation rate of 2.9 percent.

Here's how Lawrence compared with several other metropolitan areas:

¢ Kansas City: $35,859, 4.8 percent growth rate

¢ Topeka: $30,629, 4.1 percent

¢ Wichita: $33,368, 5.6 percent

¢ Austin, Texas: $34,005, 7.7 percent

¢ College Station, Texas: $24,933, 6.9 percent

¢ Boulder, Colo.: $45,944, 5.6 percent

¢ Columbia, Mo.: $31,309, 5.8 percent


Kat Christian 11 years, 8 months ago

$29,000??? I wish I could be that lucky. I work in an office with a multi-billion dollar company here in Lawrence and have to resort to food pantries to feed myself and my child. And I have a two-year degree + longtime experience in my field. My car just died, can't afford repairs, or a car payment for a new one, funds for the bus and a taxi would be just plain luxury. I just got a raise. Does Lawrence have a problem with low wages? What do you think?

ForThePeople 11 years, 8 months ago

Surprise, tell us something we didn't know already!

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

That's why i have decided to biite the bullet and go neck deep in debt to go back to school and specialize in something.....I'm sick of living on crumbs.

Todd 11 years, 8 months ago

A family of 4 can live off of $29k/year in Lawrence just fine. Here's a break down: ($2400/month)

housing: $1k/month transportation: $500/month food/clothing: $500/month income taxes/fica/medi: $200/month other/savings: $200/month

Tammy Yergey 11 years, 8 months ago

I'd like to know what country you live in. 8% tax rate? Try at least 20%. That leaves $1920 to pay rent and support a family. $1000 for rent. $250 for utilities and phone. $500 for food. That leaves $170 to cover health insurance, car insurance, car payment, fuel, clothes, medication, co-pays, school events, etc, etc, etc.

Todd 11 years, 8 months ago

I live in the USA where a family of 4 doesn't pay jack in income taxes if there gross income is $29k. FICA and medicare add up to ~8%. I put consumption based taxes into the other categories. (Earned Income Tax Credit for a family of 4 kicks in below $38k AGI for 2006 so you might have a lower effective tax rate yet)

The $1k for housing include utilities/phone. I feel the transportation/food categories can be less if you pinch. My family of 4 doesn't pinch and we have a food bill, including eating out, of less than $500/month. There's still some wiggle room.

Tammy Yergey 11 years, 8 months ago

$1000 doesn't provide much for housing if including utilities. Lawrence is very expensive as far as that goes. I have employees who work in Lawrence but live in Topeka and OP because its so much cheaper there (althought the increased fuel costs probably negate that difference now). I still say it is very difficult to live on $29,000 a year.

redneckwoman 11 years, 8 months ago

Let's not forget the added $$$ for daycare so you can work!

ModSquadGal 11 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, Todd. I don't know what you consider to be a comfortable lifestyle, but you must be scraping by, judging by your numbers. $1000 for housing INCLUDING utilities? Are you serious? And a family of four? Does your wife work too? You are leaving out A LOT of other things that need to be paid each month, and a lot of things you just can't see coming (auto repairs, etc.).

Yeah, Lawrence wages SUCK. I think it's because there are so many college students here willing to do ANYTHING for little or no money (all they need to do is buy beer)! It's really not right though.

hockmano 11 years, 8 months ago


You are off!Way off! 29K is crap! Especially in Lawrence! That might provide bare necessities but you would still just be getting by!You left out daycare, diapers, medicine, personal items. I mean, the rest of us do need toilet paper once in a while!

Todd 11 years, 8 months ago

withholding taxes> as long as you are paying what you owe the IRS will leave you alone. Claim "tax except" if you don't expect to owe taxes. Heck, the IRS will even calculate your EITC for you if you let them then put the $ in your bank account with direct deposit.

daycare> I assumed that children having 2 parents in their lives was the norm. Ooops, I guess a family of 4 to some means 1 parent and 3 kids.

multi-incomes> this article was about per-capita incomes so why in the world would someone assume it takes 2-incomes to produce $29k? I'm assuming 1 income at $29k/yr.

Look, life isn't one size fits all but $29k/yr for a family in Lawrence works. You are not poor at $29k/yr in Lawrence, KS 2006 for a 2 parent family of four. (I only mention that family setup because relics like me still consider it a "typical" family structure)

teenagers and food> I agree, when my kids get to be teenagers food consumption will rise sharply. We'll probably eat out less.

Tammy Yergey 11 years, 8 months ago

Really, Reality_Check, must you be so argumentative? In reality, most people would not be so aggressive as to claim 20 exemptions unless they had talked to a tax advisor. My guess is that someone making $29,000 can't afford to talk to a tax advisor and will take the safe route of just claiming 4, maybe 5, tax exemptions. So although your statement is true, it is just not realistic.

shorttrees 11 years, 8 months ago

Anyone who thinks a family of 4 can SAVE money on $29K a year is either debt-free (with little/no housing costs) or has extra from Somewhere!

29K yrly, paid bi-weekly is 26 paychecks. Since most of the time it's two checks a month the 2 extra checks usually serve just to throw off pay schedules! ( An Extra in December is called Christmas)

Assume that both children are of school age and don't require daycare ($700 mo for one). Also assume both children are the same sex and can share a bedroom, thus requiring only 2 bedrooms instead of 3 (Add $200 for 3rd bedroom)

29,000 divided by 26 is $1115.39 per check, x 2 per mo.

$2230.78 - 200.00 (cheap family insurance)

$2030.78 (insurance is often pre-tax) - 155.35 (FICA @ 7.65%)

$1875.43 - 600.00 (rent on 2bdrm duplex)

$1275.43 - $300.00 (Water, gas, electric, phone)

$ 975.43 - $80.00 (Liability only insurance, 2 older cars)

$895.43 - $100.00 (20 gallons gas per vehicle/month @$2.50)

$795.43 - $25.00 ($5 School misc. & $20 red. lunches @$.40 ea)

$770.43 - $500.00 (groceries, laundry, clothing, etc.)

$270.43 Misc AND Savings (only $70.43 if 3bdrm rental)

These figures assume only one gas fill-up per month per vehicle, minimal utility bills, budget-wise grocery buying and minimal family clothing/shoe expenses. Cable and Internet service also are NOT included (subtract $70 more). There is also no allowance for any medical expenses or even office co-pays ($25+ each), prescriptions (ear infections, allergies, or $20+ mo. birth control? LOL) This leaves very little for a car payment or even a major repair. It certainly leaves little for saving a house downpayment that constantly goes up! It also doesn't work when the kids get older and eat more, need more expensive maintenance, and want to do ANY of our high-priced school activities. (Not including the non-waived costs of enrolling them in Jr or Sr. High. How about a $12 Spanish workbook they don't use? Or being "required" to have internet access...)

Todd 11 years, 8 months ago

shorttrees, nice budget analysis and very reasonable. It seems clear that living off the per capita income is not the lap of luxury to say the least. I think it is a livable wage for Lawrence.

joshs_mom 11 years, 8 months ago

When I was 21 I worked in a small retail store. My boss told me once that he and his wife saved all the scraps of bar soap after they get to small to use, then heat them up for a short period of time in the oven then while the soap was soft stick them together to make one bar of soap. Sounds like he and Todd would get along well.

I can't imagine 4 people living off of 29K a year. My husband was laid off from his job and even with unemployment we had to do some penny pinching. We had made about the same income (30K each) but you know, 5K a yr came off the top because of daycare (for ONE child)

Oh by the way I'd like to see the kind of insurance plan where it costs 200.00 a month for 4 people. I work for the State (largest single group plan in the state) and I still pay 95.00 every 2 weeks (for just me and my child!) My husband didn't want to add himself after he lost insurance because of the cost. Under his employer we paid 111.00 every 2 weeks for family (all 3 of us). 7.00 for generic drugs and 15.00 for name brand.

The state plan requires co-insurance for prescription drugs and my drugs (2 generics and one name brand) now cost me almost exactly double.

Medical costs are a big deal for even middle income people. Todd doesn't realize that in his budget. Due to my medical problem I have to see a specialist every 2-3 mos at 30.00 a pop for copay, plus 50.00 a month for prescriptions.

I don't splurge either, my car is 12 yrs old and my husband's is 13 yrs old.

What would happen for that 29K a yr family if the wage earner lost his job? They have no wiggle room at all!

antonyall 11 years, 8 months ago

3 years ago i was making 38k and living very very comfortably, possibly a little too comfortably, right there in Lawrence. I w as saving at LEAST 10k/year. But then again I was single at that time. Have things in the US really gotten so difficult that a person, for the very least, cant survive comfortably on 29k??? By the way i have looked at rent in Lawrence and I see many apartments in great neighborhoods for as low as $500/mth. Good luck to yall cause ill tell ya, Lawrence is one of the few lovely towns in this big world!

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