The weatherman

Forecasting weather accurately is rarely possible but the public counts on exactly that – an accurate prediction. And the combination doesn’t always work out well as illustrated in the 2005 film, The Weather Man, when Nicholas Cage, who plays a meteorologist, sometimes gets the weather forecast wrong and is pelted with half-consumed fast food by angry viewers who don’t understand the complexity of forecasting.

Forecasting population change, like forecasting the weather, is complex, requires one to make assumptions about the future, often based on past trends, and is rarely spot on. Because population projections are less familiar to the public, projections are often treated as something closer to a fact, rather than a forecast that can and likely will change. Unfortunately, not understanding population projections can lead to much larger problems than a rained out barbecue. Read Full Article →
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Job polarization refers to a situation in the labor force where growth is concentrated among both low-and high-wage jobs, while the number of middle-wage jobs declines. Inspired by a blog post about job polarization in Oregon since the Great Recession, I found that the same trend holds true for Virginia. While the number of low-and high-wage jobs in Virginia has increased compared to pre-recession levels, middle-wage jobs have only recovered about a third of their recessionary losses.

Virginia Employment Change Since 2008 by Wage Category

Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics.

For purposes of this analysis, I classified the 22 civilian occupational groups of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Standard Occupational Classification system into three wage categories—low, middle, and high. Middle-wage jobs were defined as those occupational groups having a 2016 Virginia median wage between 75 and 150 percent of the 2016 Virginia median wage for all occupations (roughly $30,000 to $60,000).

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I recently needed to research the commuting flows of the Charlottesville workforce and resident population to learn about the daytime population, and I needed to have an idea of what was happening at the neighborhood level. The U.S. Census’ Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES) made this level of analysis possible. LODES data include pairs of residence and administrative work locations at the Census Block level for about 95% of all jobs. The 2014 LODES primary jobs data and maps I developed to visualize what’s happening provide a glimpse of where workers are coming from and what the flow exchanges in the area look like.

The Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area includes Albemarle County, Fluvanna County, Greene County, Nelson County, and Charlottesville City. In addition, Louisa and Augusta counties are among the top contributors of workers to Charlottesville. For these maps, I included anyone who lived or worked in the 7 localities mentioned. Workers residing outside but working in the 7 localities are categorized as “Other: in state” or “Other: out of state.”

This bird’s eye view shows where the employed population live:

1-establishing-shot1

And this map shows where the employed population work:

1-establishing-shot50 Read Full Article →
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“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have” is a quote often ascribed to the British PM Sir Winston Churchill. In that spirit, and in light of the recent health care reform debate within the US, I wondered what the current picture of health coverage actually looks like.  The Census Bureau offers tools that allow us to see the same data set from different perspectives. Since 2008, the historical face of health insurance has changed significantly as depicted in Fig 1 below. The transition starts gradually and until 2013, most states remain in the brackets with lower insurance rates. But over 2014 and 2015, with the exception of Alaska and Texas, the uninsured rate across all states dramatically dropped below 14%.

Fig 1: CHANGE IN HEALTH INSURANCE MAP 2008-2015*

infographic_all-50-states-2008-to-2015_-858

Across the US, health insurance rates vary, both by region and by age groups as seen from the map in Fig 2. By 2015, the uninsured percentage of the population was mainly concentrated in the 18-64 ages, with the very young and very old having greater health coverage in comparison. Read Full Article →

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This morning the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia released its 2016 population estimates for Virginia’s counties and cities. The most obvious trend in the population estimates is how much more slowly Virginia and most of its communities are growing this decade. Since 2010, Virginia’s population has grown by a little over 410,000 residents. During the same period of the last decade, Virginia added over 604,000 residents.

Population Change

Source:Decennial Census and 2016 State Population Estimates

As last week’s post noted, Virginia’s population growth is slowing in large part because many of its residents are leaving the state. The last time Virginia grew at a rate that was slow as the rate it is experiencing now was during the 1920s, which was also the last time many Virginians were leaving the commonwealth for other states.     Read Full Article →

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In December, the Census Bureau released its annual state population estimates, which showed that Virginia grew by 44,000 residents last year, its smallest numerical gain in population since the 1970s. The main cause of Virginia’s slower growth is that, for the past three years, more people have been leaving Virginia for other states than moving in. Prior to 2013, IRS tax return data (which the Census Bureau uses to track migration) had never recorded out-migration from Virginia since the IRS began publishing the data in 1978.

1990 to 2015 Migration Virginia

*Census migration data (2014-15 net domestic migration). IRS migration data (total net migration) used for all other years. Though the 2014-2015 IRS data showed a similar trend, changes in the way the IRS published the data affected the comparability of 2014-15 IRS migration data with data from previous years. 

The most obvious reason why more people are leaving Virginia than moving in is the state’s economy, which has lagged behind the rest of the country since 2011, especially since the federal budget sequestration began in early 2013. Prior to the budget sequestration, Wells Fargo Securities ranked Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia as the areas most dependent on federal spending.

Since 2013, Northern Virginia in particular has been losing residents to other states. Fairfax County, which contains over a third of Northern Virginia’s population, has experienced a significant rise in residents moving to metro areas with healthier economies, such as Houston or Los Angeles.  Read Full Article →
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Since the Changing Shape of American Cities report came out, I’ve fielded numerous questions about whether the trends cited had much to do with the subprime mortgage crisis and the recession that followed. The short answer is no. The recession may have accelerated things, but the shift began long before 2006. Data from 2000 shows a steady march from the 1990 “old donut” to the 2012 “new donut.”

But with the release of the new 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, we have a chance to see a true post-recession data point, a full 3 years newer than the data used in the report. I’ve crunched those numbers and added them to the charting tool here.

For the most part, the new data shows no dramatic changes (unsurprising since the two 5-year estimates overlap by two years and thus are drawing on some of the same data). Where there has been change, it’s largely been a continuation of the trends noted in the paper. The most consistent trend is a slight increase in per-capita income in the center, visible on the composite map and present in most of the cities that experienced any visible change. A few cities that continued to experience transition over that three year-period include:

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles1

 

Richmond, VA

Richmond1

San Antonio, TX

San Antonio1

What stands out to me is that many of the most established cities, with the most visible new donuts already, also saw the least change. Many of the cities that looked like they had changed the least before are now starting to show signs of moving in the new donut direction. It may be that there is a natural asymptote for the cities at the forefront of the trend, while other cities are just a few years behind and are now playing catch-up.

Take a look for yourself and see if you see any other patterns.

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2016 Inclusion works

Last month, in observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data reflecting the work contributions of Americans with disabilities and the employment difficulties they may face. This year’s theme “#InclusionWorks” seeks to generate further awareness of workers with disabilities by embracing individual differences and fostering workforce diversity. Nearly 5.2 million people with disabilities were employed across the country in 2015, largely concentrated in management, professional, and related occupations (31.3%). This made me curious about the labor force characteristics of Virginians with disabilities.

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FirstGeneration_CollegeStudents
As our nation embraces–and as the workplace demands–postsecondary education for an increasingly wider swath of students graduating from high school, the question arises: what factors discourage, or even prevent, high school students from applying for admission to Virginia’s many fine postsecondary institutions?  Certainly, finances, family constraints, academic and career interests, and other issues may influence whether a high school senior undertakes the process of surveying schools of interest, collecting application forms, taking placement tests, and completing the complex process of submitting applications to one or more institutions of higher education.  Many educators and policy makers assume that the level of education of the students’ parents may have a significant impact on whether students apply to college and on how well they do once admitted; and initiatives are developed to support these so-called “first generation” students, once they are enrolled in a college or university in the Commonwealth.
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During the last three decades, growth in the U.S. working age population, ages 20 to 65, has easily outpaced total U.S. population growth. But in coming decades further growth in the working-age population is on track to be considerably slower, increasing at less than half the rate of the rest of the population. As the large baby boomer generation leaves the workforce, there will be hardly enough twenty-year-olds entering the workforce to replace them. Meanwhile, as Baby Boomers age, the population over 65 will swell and become the fastest growing age group in the U.S. This shift in the structure of the U.S. population – a relatively small population of 20-year-olds to replenish jobs vacated by a large population of Baby Boomers – will reshape local economies across the country.Change in Population

Sources: Decennial Census Counts, *Weldon Cooper Center National Population Projections

Comparing the U.S. age distribution in 1980 with the current U.S. age distribution below, reveals how the working-age population grew so quickly between 1980 and 2010, and why growth is now hard to come by.workingagecomparison Read Full Article →
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