Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Census figures round up: Part 1

The US Census Bureau released data today that was compiled during the years 2005 to 2007. They call it the American Community Survey and it's purpose is to compliment the census that takes place every decade for more year to year material.

Whenever the census bureau does something like this, newspapers across the country localize the story, so we will do snippets of three stories we have seen already today. First, from The Coloradan, writer Dennis Crawl gives the figures for a very prosperous part of the nation.

The number of Loveland residents living in poverty doubled in recent years as income levels plunged by 10 percent, according to new census data released this week.

On average, more than one of every 11 Loveland residents lived below the poverty line between 2005 and 2007, compared to about one in every 16 in the 2000 census, according to results from the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It's the first poverty estimate for Loveland since the 2000 census and is in line with earlier data that showed dramatic poverty increases in that time in Larimer County and Fort Collins.

Jenn and Derrick Barnes have learned how difficult it is to make ends meet while supporting four small children on one modest paycheck.

“I worked so much that I was gone all the time, and it wasn’t helping out as much as I hoped. I couldn’t make enough to afford day care,” Jenn said.

That kept Jenn at home with the children, all between 5 and 11 years old, and the family dependent on Derrick’s job as a business analyst, which they said is a “fancy title” with a not-so-fancy salary.

Next, the take from Northern California, Shauntel Lowe writes for the Time Herald.

Census data released today show a marked increase since 2000 in the percentage of Vallejo families living below the poverty level and a steep jump in the proportion of household income devoted to housing costs.

The data, compiled between 2005 and 2007 for the American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, also reveals an increase of more than 100 percent in the median value of single-family homes in that time.

(The figures, however, were based on statistics gathered at the beginning of the subprime mortgage crisis, and do not reflect current values.)

Since 2000, the percentage of Vallejo families with children under 18 living below the poverty level has risen from 10.3 to 15.5, according to the survey.

In that same period, the percentage of homeowners spending more than 35 percent of their household income on housing costs has climbed from 21.8 to 39.1.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that no more than 30 percent of a household's gross income go toward housing costs, which include mortgage and property insurance payments.

Finally from Alabama, Trevor Stokes writes for the Times Daily.

The U.S. Census today released a demographic snapshot of small communities with 20,000 or more residents, the first update since the 2000 Census.

The American Community Survey averaged together three years of responses across the U.S. taken between 2005 and 2007 that allowed the Census to produce population estimates of population as small as 20,000 people. The survey results covered Lauderdale and Colbert counties along with the Florence/Muscle Shoals metropolitan statistical area.

"Communities are no longer limited to a once-a-decade look at their population's characteristics," stated Census Bureau Director Steve H. Murdock in a press release.

"The (American Community Survey's) multiyear data will allow small towns and communities to track how they are changing on an ongoing basis."

The data are distinguished from the U.S. Census taken every 10 years in that they represent an average over three years in different surveys.

"Construction of new housing units has slowed to a crawl in Florence this decade," according to an initial analysis from Annette Jones Watters, director of the Alabama State Data Center at the University of Alabama. Watters responded to questions about the data via e-mail.

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