The map below was one of the more interesting maps produced after the census in 2010. It shows how the United States’ demographic center of gravity has shifted westward each census since the first in 1790. The center of population is essentially the point on which a flat, firm map of the United States would be perfectly balanced — somewhat like a seesaw — if all its residents had the same weight.

U.S Center of Population

What is this map good for?
There are a myriad of ways to map a population, but as useful as maps can be they typically contain a large number of data points which can make interpreting them difficult. The main strength of a center of population map is its simplicity, just the location of America’s center of population can reveal a good deal about the country. With some historical knowledge a map of the country’s previous centers of population can reveal a number of macro trends in U.S history. For example, in 1890 the Census Bureau announced that the western frontier had finally been settled, as the map above shows, the U.S center of population would move west much more slowly afterwards.

After looking at the United States map, I created the interactive map below of each state’s center of population over time to see if it would also show trends for the states and the country.

State Centers of Population

Zoom out and in to see other states

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

A couple of weeks agoSafetyNet_FoodStamps_First3 I got an email from a local food bank asking if we knew the number of people receiving SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) in a certain locality. He was trying to estimate the “number of hungry people” in his community and figured SNAP recipients were a “reasonable surrogate” for that. His assumption makes complete sense–households receiving SNAP benefits have demonstrated a lack of financial resources, forcing them to choose between food and other necessities, like utilities.

But more importantly, he was trying to demonstrate to the members of his community that even in their relatively middle-class neighborhood people struggled with food insecurity. Given this as his goal, focusing on those receiving SNAP only provided a portion of the picture. Many of the people to walk into the food bank are not eligible for SNAP, but they are no less in need.

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

Living wage in VirginiaThe definition of “living wage” is difficult to nail down. In 2012, members of the University of Virginia community issued a living wage demand of $13.00 per hour for University employees, to be adjusted yearly. Amy Glasmeier, the researcher behind the MIT Living Wage Calculator, defines living wage as “just enough to pay bills for the necessities of life and not fall behind”. The Economic Policy Institute built its Family Budget Calculator to determine “the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard,” while the Center for Women’s Welfare Self-Sufficiency Standard calculates “the amount of income necessary to meet basic needs (including taxes) without public assistance…and without private/informal assistance”.

What is a “living wage”?

Though they may appear under different names, each of the above represents an attempt to define an hourly wage or yearly income that will allow households to meet basic needs. The effort to establish a “living wage” is made difficult because security and comfort are both subjectively, and relatively, defined.

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

This week, the Demographics Research Group published a new Census Brief covering recent trends in Virginia’s public school enrollment. Despite the weak economy, most of Virginia’s localities have continued to grow in population during the past five years. Throughout the recession and the subsequent recovery, Virginia has consistently had more people moving in than out. Yet in many of Virginia’s localities the number of children enrolled in their schools is beginning to decline while their population continues to grow. The divergence in population and school enrollment trends is likely to be a challenge for many local governments going forward.

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

Virginia is home to nearly 720,000 veterans. In observance of National Veterans Day (11 November), we developed a brief demographic profile of veterans in the Commonwealth.

Who are they?

About a third of veterans are between the ages of 35 – 55. While nationally only 8 percent of veterans are women, in Virginia the share is higher at 12 percent.

Age&Gender of Veterans

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

1In recent decades, the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in the United States has easily been the most discussed population trend. Fueled by immigration and births, the U.S. Hispanic population grew from 4 percent of the population in 1970 to 16 percent—or over 50 million—by 2010. The increase in the U.S. Hispanic population has attracted considerable interest from different sources, including advertisers looking for new markets to political parties who believe the Hispanic vote is now essential to win elections.

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

Despite a rise in high school graduation rates, college enrollment is dropping from its 2011 peak, leaving many small colleges scrambling.  Here in Virginia, enrollment has largely been steady, but two small colleges closed in the last two years, and others have sounded the alarm on declining enrollment or missed targeted growth.  Every struggling college certainly has its own history and unique problems.  But larger trends always pick off stragglers.  In Warren Buffet’s words, “when the tide goes out, you find out who’s been swimming naked.”  And the tide appears to be going out. 

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

An article at the Urbanophile gives us a helpful graphic explaining the old and new “Donut” conceptions of the city.  In the “Old Donut,” we have an impoverished central city with a ring of thriving suburbs around it.

OldDonutAn example of that model appears in this graph, which shows the percentage of adults over 25 with college degrees in the Charlotte, NC metro area in 1990.  The x-axis is distance from the center of downtown.

charlotte1990

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

If you grew up in one of Northern Virginia's Historical PopulationVirginia’s suburban counties, such as Prince William, or in any of Virginia’s metro areas, you likely grew up with the impression that growth is as certain as the seasons. For decades, many counties in Virginia have grown relentlessly, constructing thousands of homes each year to house new residents. With more residents come more schools, roads, offices and shops. Except for the hard times around the Civil War, Virginia’s population as a whole has grown continuously since it was a colony.

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook

There is a lot of buzz amongst urbanists and demographers about millennials’ preference for urban areas.  We’ve found evidence to support this narrative in some areas of Virginia, including indications that they may be staying even after having kids.

But there’s also a lot of talk about baby boomers retiring and moving into cities.  Maybe this is happening in other parts of the U.S., but it’s certainly not the case in Virginia. 

Read Full Article →

EmailPinterestTwitterFacebook