“That is a really complicated question,” said Joy Gaasch, president of the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg.
Factors that affect income levels include the area’s rate of unemployment, available jobs in the community (remember Sappi was a large employer in Muskegon until it closed in 2009), rate of pay at jobs, number of individuals on fixed incomes such as retirees and public assistance, and the commuting patterns of residents.
The income levels for individuals are reported in their county of residence, yet a higher percentage of folks from Ottawa County commute to Grand Rapids for jobs than folks from Muskegon County, Gaasch explained, and that is why Ottawa County is now in the Grand Rapids/Wyoming metropolitan statistical area for data reporting. So, there is no quick and easy answer, she said.
“In comparing income levels of communities, it has become a little more difficult as people choose where to reside for many different reasons,” Gaasch said. “Since there are now typically two wage earners per family, Northwest Ottawa County may be a central location if one person works in Muskegon and another works in Ottawa or Kent County.”
Here’s some statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 estimates to consider:
— County median household income: Ottawa, $55,760; Muskegon, $40,843; Kent, $51,303; Michigan, $48,471.
— Median household income in Northwest Ottawa County municipalities: City of Grand Haven, $42,142; Grand Haven Township, $69,850; Spring Lake Village, $49,318; Spring Lake Township, $52,542; Ferrysburg, $43,627.
— Median household income in Muskegon County municipalities: Muskegon, $26,686; Muskegon Heights, $20,362; North Muskegon, $56,000; Norton Shores, $49,299; Roosevelt Park, $42,069; Fruitport, $50,045.
— Per-capita income: Ottawa County, $25,359; Muskegon County, $20,463.
— Percentage of population below the poverty level: Ottawa County, 10.5; City of Grand Haven, 13.0; Muskegon County, 19.5; City of Muskegon, 34.3; Muskegon Heights, 47.9; Michigan, 16.3.
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