There is an axiom in the technology sector, known as Amara’s law, which states that the short term impact of a new technology will typically be overestimated while the long term impact is usually underestimated. This is particularly true when considering the impact the internet was expected to have on where people choose to live. During the 1990s dot-com boom, increasing access to the internet was expected to make geography matter less—with goods, services and even work becoming accessible through the internet, the differences between regions, countries, cities and rural areas were expected to shrink. Thomas Friedman’s bestseller The World is Flat popularized this idea even further. But the acceleration in job and population growth in many major U.S. cities over the past two decades has caused a number of demographers and economists to question the initial assumption that the internet would be a “great leveller”. In fact, in a digital economy, the growth in jobs and population has appeared to be more concentrated than ever in a few large metro areas.Job Growth BLS

Source: Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, BLS data

However, Census Bureau data released in December shows some signs that the internet may be entering the second stage of Amara’s law where the places Americans chose to live are becoming less connected to where their employer is based. In the last three years that Census data is available (2015-2018), the number of Americans who primarily telecommute (working from home) rose by over 1.6 million, after increasing by less than 1.5 million between 2000 and 2010. If Virginians who primarily worked at home were grouped together as an industry, it would easily be Virginia’s fastest growing industry, increasing by 43 percent since 2010. As of 2018, about 6 percent, or nearly a quarter of a million Virginians, worked from home, a little less than the share of Virginians who worked in manufacturing (7 percent). Read Full Article →

It is important that kids from economically-disadvantaged families have access to good schools so that they will have a better outlook for employment, income, and overall wellbeing than their parents’ generation. My first post on this topic provided an introduction to the interrelation between an area’s school proficiency and its cost of housing. By giving an overview of both school quality and housing cost across Virginia, the post provided context in relation to the quality of schools children in lower-income housing are attending. One way that governments provide opportunity for low-income households is by offering them rental subsidies to live in areas where job centers,  amenities, and higher-quality schools are located. This second post will focus on (1) where subsidized housing is located in Virginia and (2) how this relates to school quality.

 Affordable housing is an ambiguous term that means different things to different people. In this study, it focuses on federally subsidized or assisted rental housing that provides lower-income households the financial ability to have affordable homes. Federally subsidized or assisted housing comprises the majority of subsidized units in service today, including those under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Section 8, Public Housing, HOME, HUD Insured, USDA Rural Rental Housing, and Section 202 programs. Data for this analysis are drawn from the National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD).

Figure 1: Federally subsidized housing locations in Virginia, 2019

Sub Housing Figure1

Source:The National Housing Preservation Database (NHPD)
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Data Source: Great Schools (proficiency data, 2013-14); Common Core of Data (4th grade school addresses and enrollment, 2013-14); Maponics (attendance boundaries, 2016)

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Stickers4Voters

Political punditry and polls often form the basis for predicting election results, but rarely are they consistent or comprehensive. Given the importance of state-level voting, and the central role played by the Electoral College in the democratic process, projecting the number of eligible voters in each state may add value to understanding the November 2020 election cycle. For the current analysis, eligible voters are defined as U.S. citizens ages 18 and over, including those born in the U.S. as well as those born in other countries who have immigrated and become naturalized citizens.1

The sheer population size of the individual states is a good starting indicator of how large a pool of potential voters may reside in them. If the elections were held today, California would have over 25.8 million voters, while Wyoming would have fewer than 500,000 people eligible to vote. Texas, Florida, and New York would each be home to over 10 million eligible voters, closely followed by Pennsylvania and Illinois. Read Full Article →

School quality is one of the most important considerations for a family when choosing where to live. However, a more critical aspect in deciding home location is affordability. More often than not, these two pieces don’t line up. If lower-income households could make housing location decisions based on school quality alone rather than affordability, they would typically choose to locate elsewhere.

Education, especially at an early age, is critical to social mobility. However, many children don’t have the opportunity to attend a high-quality school. Theoretically, subsidized affordable housing could help alleviate this mismatch and provide lower-income families the opportunity to send their children to better schools. As it is, however, most kids who grow up in subsidized housing are more likely to live near low-performing schools.

A series of two posts will narrow in on this reality Virginia. This first post will give a statewide overview at the neighborhood level of both (1) school quality as measured by the HUD school proficiency index and (2) housing cost as measured by median housing value. A second forthcoming post in this series will explore (1) where subsidized housing is located in Virginia and (2) how this relates to school quality.

Children in lower-cost housing should be able to attend good schools. By examining and highlighting the current mismatch between these two, steps can be taken to ensure that it doesn’t persist.

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In 1998, President Bill Clinton startled an audience of students by making this statement:

“In a little more than 50 years there will be no majority race in the United States. No other nation in history has gone through demographic change of this magnitude in so short a time.”

While few people in 1998 were aware of the Census Bureau projection cited by the president, the growing diversity of the U.S. population has received substantial attention since then.  Census projections released and widely covered by the media since the 1998 Clinton speech also predict whites will become a minority during the 2040s. Public and private sector leaders have reacted by increasingly focusing on diversity within their organizations.

Census Race Categories from PDFSource: 2017 American Community Survey, Census Bureau Race/Ethnicity Projections

Yet, what is less commonly known is that the same Census projections that predict Americans who identify as white alone will become a minority during the 2040s also predict that about 75 percent of the U.S. population is expected to mark the box next to White on their Census form, either alone or in combination with another race or ethnicity. That percentage is fairly close to the share of the U.S. population currently identifying as white, and is about the same share as in the first census in 1790. The fact that the same Census projection can show whites becoming a minority by 2040 and also show the percent of Americans who identify as white remaining close to levels counted in previous censuses is an indicator of how the race categories we use are struggling to keep up with our changing population.
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Moving Truck

When people hear that “Northern Virginia drives population growth in the commonwealth,” or “rural communities are losing population,” they immediately think of large numbers of people moving into Northern Virginia or many residents leaving rural counties. Is this true?

In this article, we examine county-to-county (including independent cities) Internal Revenue Service (IRS) migration data, one of the key sources of information used by the Census Bureau to estimate migration each year. We look here at the 2015-2016 data—the most recent information available to the public.

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Whether you are a Virginia resident or not, you may be familiar with this famous travel slogan: “Virginia is for Lovers.” This iconic tourism campaign slogan, adopted in 1969 by the Virginia State Travel Service, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, which prompted me to take a look at trends in the Tourism and Hospitality employment in Virginia.

Jobs in the Tourism and Hospitality sector are primarily from three segments: Accommodation; Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation; and Food Service, and Drinking Places. In Virginia, the number of jobs in these segments has increased by 36 percent in the last twenty years, from nearly 295,000 in 1999 to 402,000 in 2018.

 

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Source: U.S Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies, LEHD; NAICS Association

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The traditional higher-education system works for many, but not everyone desires or can afford a college degree. About one in three US adults age 18 and older hold a high school degree as their highest level of education. While well-paying jobs for workers with a high school diploma alone still exist, they have rapidly declined. By 2020 it is expected that almost two-thirds of all jobs will require some postsecondary training or education.

Is there a solution to this dilemma? Shall we begin to rethink the traditional educational model by focusing in between the two extremes of either “no college” or a full four-year degree? It would be sensible to increase attention towards “Middle-skill” pathways, which can provide gainful employment and encourage further education and degree completion.

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CrystalBall

Having a crystal ball that could foresee the future would be ideal, but in reality we can only rely on our ability to project Virginia’s population based on past trends. Population projections provide a lens to look into the future to anticipate what the decades ahead may hold. While projections are inherently uncertain, as the future is largely unknown, accuracy at larger geographic levels—and for the near future—can be highly valuable and useful. They provide us with a baseline for planning, and guide the needs and priorities for decision-making across the Commonwealth.

The Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia recently released the updated 2019 population projections for all counties, cities, and large towns across Virginia. These updated projections show that while Virginia continues to grow in population size, the pace of growth may be a little slower than what was earlier projected, with a 2020 population of 8.65 million.  The 13% statewide growth rate of the last decade (2000-2010) has decelerated to 8% for the current decade and is anticipated to hold steady through 2020-2030 assuming that current trends will continue, specifically lower births, higher deaths (result of aging), and fewer people moving into the state.

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Looking further than educational attainment

When viewing regional profiles, it is typical to see statistics for educational attainment – the highest level of education obtained by a person currently living in an area – as the predominant metric for talent. This is commonly depicted as the percent of the population with a college degree (bachelor’s degree or higher). Talent is key to a region’s economic wellbeing and development but unfortunately, it is often said that talented youth is among the largest exports in many areas of rural Virginia. This trend is not unique to Virginia, but is omnipresent across all rural areas in the U.S.

However, talent can also be measured by an area’s capacity to build its workforce through degree and certificate completions. Looking closely at the number and type of degree and certification completions in conjunction with the workforce needs of the area can help regions plan more carefully to ensure their residents have the right skills to meet the area’s workforce needs rather than relying on outside talent (this is particularly important as migration is declining).

Figure1: Educational Attainment in Virginia

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

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