First published in the April 8 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
South Pasadena residents were generally more educated and more wealthy from 2016 to 2020 than they were in the previous five-year period, according to recently released U.S. Census Bureau data.
The 2016-20 American Community Survey results, which the bureau released in March, are an aggregate of data collected over half a decade.
A South Pasadena Review analysis of the data suggests that the median household income for the city was more than 25% higher during that time period than during the 2011-2015 survey timeframe.
The percentage of residents ages 25 and older with college experience also increased.
The American Community Survey gathers input from residents regarding a range of topics, including income, transportation, health care coverage and housing. Though the data isn’t intended to track rapid changes in socioeconomic factors, politicians, local leaders and researchers often look to the results to help gauge community needs and experiences.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated South Pasadena’s median household income at nearly $110,000, a 27.4% increase from the roughly $86,000 — adjusted for 2020-level inflation — figure estimated for the other five-year period.
The median household income in Los Angeles County was an estimated $71,000 in 2016-2020, increasing about 16.2%.
South Pasadena’s estimated income increase was particularly pronounced for homes with white householders — the person recorded as owning or renting a housing unit who identified as white — reportedly saw a median household leap of nearly 47.9%.
Asian householders who also identified with a single race saw an estimated jump of more than 38.1%. Householders who identified with two or more races saw an increase of about 26.2%.
Income data for Black householders in South Pasadena was not available for the 2011-15 period, possibly due to the low population of that group in the city. The median income for homes with a Black householder in the 2016-20 period was about $99,000.
Those groups include Hispanic householders who identified with one of those racial categories. The U.S. Census Bureau considers whether a respondent is Hispanic as separate from their race. Across racial groups, Hispanic householders saw a nearly 31.1% increase in median household income.
The bureau estimated that 91% of South Pasadena residents ages 25 and older had at least some college experience during the recent reporting period, up from 84.5% in 2011-15. About 34.9% of residents in that age group had a bachelor’s degree — up from 32.5% — and another 35.6% had a graduate or professional degree — up from 26.6%.
About 59.4% of L.A. County residents had at least some college experience for the 2015-20 period.
Experts have warned of potential flaws in the data, though the information is considered more reliable than the one-year American Community Survey estimates. The U.S. Census Bureau cautioned that because it collected the data over five years, they “only reflect a small part” of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.
The coronavirus also reduced survey response rates, forcing the bureau to alter its estimate methodology.
The median age for South Pasadena residents during the 2016-20 period was 39.5 years old, changing little from the estimate provided for the previous period. About 50.2% of residents identified as female, with 49.8% identifying as male. The median age for L.A. County was 36.7, with about 50.7% of residents being female.
Roughly 24.1% of South Pasadena residents surveyed for the 2016-2020 survey were born outside the United States, lower than the 26.6% estimated for the prior five-year period.
Additional American Community Survey data is available at data.census.gov.