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What does the new Census data say?

DON FENLEY • Sep 24, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Despite some headwinds and stress signals, the Tri-Cities is enjoying a strong economy so far this year that is building on 2017 which new Census data shows was also a growth year.

American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2017 (released Sept. 13) and compared to 2016 data shows:

The population increased.

Median household and family incomes increased.

Median earnings for workers increased.

Per capita income increased.

More people had jobs.

The labor force increased.

The number of households with earnings increased.

The number of people receiving Supplemental Social Security Income declined.

The number of people receiving cash public assistance declined.

The number of people receiving food stamps declined.

The overall poverty rate decreased.

The health insurance comparison is mixed:

More people had private insurance

Fewer had public coverage

The number of people without insurance increased.

In many ways, 2017 was the year the regional economy began setting its new normal after a slow recovery from the Great Recession. This report will be followed during the comings weeks and months by localized reports on city, county and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) localizations. Next week Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data for 2017 will add additional perspective to the economies of the regional and metro area. This report uses the 1-year ACS because it’s more representative of current conditions than the 5-years ACS reports that will be released later this year. Supplemental data from the 1-year ACS will be released later this year and will afford additional data on cities and counties that did not meet the population benchmark for the core report.

One thing this comparison does not go into is the growing wealth disparity in the Tri-Cities. That situation will be the topic of a report in the coming weeks.

Don Fenley is a semi-retired journalist. For more check out his blog, Core Data, at www.donfenley.com.

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