Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Changing Face of Immigration: A Regional Look at 100 Years of Foreign Born Populations

The role of international immigration for our area is something I have recently been posting about. Like the country as a whole, our communities have long been refuges for those seeking a change in their lives as they left their loved ones, their homes and their cultures to seek a new beginning in a foreign land.

The percentage of our regional population that was foreign born reached its peak in the early part of the 1900s. Around 1920 nearly 50,000 people who lived in Herkimer and Oneida Counties had been born in another country. From that decade through 1990, the area saw a continuing decline of foreign immigrants – in 1990 only around 10,000 people living here had been born abroad.  The percent of population that was foreign born went from nearly 20% in 1920 to less than 5% by 1990.
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European immigration had long fueled our area with new community members. From the turn of the last century through the first decade of this one, people emigrating from the “old Continent” to our region have made up the majority of those settling in Herkimer and Oneida Counties. In 1900 more than 31,000 residents were foreign born, and 90% of them came here from Europe.  In particular, the vast majority of foreign born Europeans living here in 1900 came from the northern and western countries of the continent: places like England, Ireland, France and Germany were typical “motherlands”.  Of note is that many immigrants in the area also called Italy, a part of Southern Europe, home.  

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This flow of people mainly from the Northern and Western European countries has changed in the last 100 years however. No longer are those regions contributing nearly what they once had. While Europe as a continent still is where more than 40% of our foreign born population comes from, it is no longer dominated by countries in the north and west; former residents of countries like Ukraine, Bosnia and Belarus now make up more than 70% of the Eastern Europeans that have recently migrated from that continent. So there has been both a decline in the number and percentage of Europeans immigrating to our region, as well as a change in what countries those Europeans are originating from as they have make their way to Herkimer and Oneida Counties.

If European immigration is only currently accounting for around 40% of our foreign born population, where is the rest coming from? In the past, the small percentage of non-European immigrants came from places like Canada; in the last decade, what we now see is considerable immigration from south of our border, as well as from the west, in Asia.

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In 2000 more than one in ten (12%) foreign born residents came from the Caribbean, Central America, or South America. By 2010, that percentage had climbed to around 18%. Even more noteworthy, one in five (20%) foreign born people in the region were from Asia according to the 2000 Census. In 2010, a full third (33%) of immigrants were of Asian heritage.  Combined then, more than half of the foreign born members of our communities are now from somewhere other than Europe – versus  100 years ago when 90% of international immigrants came from there.  

International migration in our region has changed considerably in the last 100 years then. We have gone from having a very Euro-centric foreign born immigrant population to one that is much more blended with Latin American, South American, Mexican and Asian cultures all competing to become the next versions of our region's proud Italian, Polish, German and other successful ethnic communities.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Regional Decline of Religious Adherents: 1980 Versus 2010

With the Easter season upon us, I wanted to take a quick look at the religious data available through the 2010 Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS) and the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). A previous post about religious membership in both counties provided some basics as to where we are in terms of congregations and adherents, however I was curious about how this has changed over the years.

The 2010 RCMS comes with some historical data as well. Below are two charts, one for Herkimer and Oneida Counties, that compare the number of adherents in four basic religious traditions for each area. The implication is pretty clear - there has been a considerable decline in the number of adherents (which include all full members, their children, and others who regularly attend services) as well as the mix of the traditions within each county. While those practicing Catholicism remain a steady dominant religious group, Evangelical Protestants show the most growth since 1980.

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The New Us: Portrait of a Changing America

The Atlantic Magazine recently reviewed a new report by PEW Research which provides a portrait of some very significant demographic and cultural shifts in the United States. The report is filled with fascinating details about who we are as Americans, what we believe, and how both of those things have changed over the last several decades.

As they point out, "Demographic transformations are dramas in slow motion. America is in the midst of two right now. Our population is becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray. Each of these shifts would by itself be the defining demographic story of its era. The fact that both are unfolding simultaneously has generated big generation gaps that will put stress on our politics, families, pocketbooks, entitlement programs and social cohesion."

Here's is one of their graphics about minority population changes in the past 50 years, as well as its projected growth for the next fifty.

 To see how Utica and Rome minority populations have changed since 1980, visit this blog's MAPS page ! The minority population maps are near the bottom.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New "Census Reporter" Offers Easy Access To Most Recent ACS Data

There's a new tool available, particularly intended for journalists, that helps pull together census related data from the most recent American Communities Survey (ACS). Sponsored by the Knight Foundation, the new tool, called Census Reporter was developed to make it easier for journalists to write stories using information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Place profiles and comparison pages provide a friendly interface for navigating data, including visualizations for a more useful first look.

Using Census Reporter is fairly easy.  When you go to the website you really have three options: you can search for profile information by the name of a particular location; you can search for specific tables from the ACS for a particular location; or you can browse tables topically and select which one you'd like to see by location. Each of these options has various benefits, and all have the ability to download the data afterwards. For example, when you look at the profiles, you can pull up the local data and see how it compares to the state and federal statistics. In addition, the profiles option allows you to look specifically at data for your current location by clicking a button and giving your computer permission to share where you are!

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The site is not without its limitations however. I have yet to find a way to look at multiple locations at the same time, which means comparing across similar areas isn't possible yet, and I haven't found a way to change the database I am using for generating the statistics. It defaults to the most recently released data available over the smallest number of years - meaning IF you wanted to use the 5 year estimates from the ACS for a county that has a one year estimate out there, you're out of luck! It ONLY gives you the 1 year estimate stats. That's ok, but sometimes you might want the 5 year estimates.

Regardless, the Census Reporter is a very slick tool and might be helpful for a quick look at recent ACS data.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Measuring Urban S p r a w l

A recent article in Governing examined measuring the impact of urban sprawl. They reviewed a new report conducted by the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, and Smart Growth America, an organization that advocates for sustainable growth.

Smart Growth America and the Metropolitan Research Center analyzed development in 193 census defined Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), or metro areas, as well as 28 census defined Metropolitan Divisions in the largest 11 MSAs. All of the analyzed areas had at least 200,000 people in 2010. MSAs with populations less than 200,000 people were not included in the study. This study also analyzed development in the 994 metropolitan counties which comprised the MSAs. Development in both MSAs and metropolitan counties was evaluated using four main factors: development density; land use mix; activity centering; and street accessibility.

A composite score was then created and each area, or county, was measured in terms of its sprawl. The higher the composite score the less the sprawl and the more compact and connected the area is thought to be. According to the authors, individuals in compact, connected metro areas have greater economic mobility. Individuals in these areas spend less on the combined cost of housing and transportation, and have greater options for the type of transportation to take. In addition, individuals in compact, connected metro areas tend to live longer, safer, healthier lives than their peers in metro areas with sprawl. Obesity is less prevalent in compact counties, and fatal car crashes are less common. 

Below you can find the scores, including the overall composite scores for all of the metropolitan counties in New York. Because researchers weighed the four factors equally, producing an index with an average of 100, that means that metro areas that had scores above 100 tend to be more compact, while those scoring below 100 are more sprawling.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Emergency Management Mapping With "OnTheMap"

OnTheMap is a Census Bureau supported web-based mapping and reporting application that shows where workers are employed and where they live. It also provides companion reports on age, earnings, industry distributions, race, ethnicity, educational attainment, and sex. The application provides an easy-to-use interface for creating, viewing, printing and downloading workforce related maps, profiles, and underlying data. OnTheMap is a unique resource for mapping the travel patterns of workers and identifying small-area workforce characteristics.

There is an offshoot of the standard OnTheMap application that provides an easy interface from which to retrieve reports containing detailed workforce, population, and housing characteristics for emergency management planning. The application helps to visually identify hurricanes, floods, wildfires, winter storms, and federal disaster declaration areas.

Below is the Emergency Management map from April 4th (today). The map identifies several federal disaster areas, wildfires, and areas of ice/freezing rain. Visit the Emergency Management mapping page to look at some of the features of this application !

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Population Counts, Estimates, and Projections: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Most people are familiar with the traditional decennial census counts. Those are the numbers that come out, once every 10 years, as a result of the Constitutionally mandated census efforts. These have taken place since 1790, and will next occur in the year 2020. People, policymakers and businesses all look forward to the census counts as a way to see where we are, and how we've changed over the last decade. They also use these numbers for reapportionment of our legislative districts.

However, the decennial census counts aren't the only population numbers that get bandied about. In the non-decennial census years people often pay close attention to the population estimates, which get released annually. Each year, the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program (PEP) utilizes current data on births, deaths, and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census. Over the course of the years between decennial censuses, they produce a time series of estimates of population. The annual time series of estimates begins with the last decennial census year and extends to the vintage (i.e. most recent) year. These numbers are generally seen as indications of where we are and where we're headed.

A third sort of population number that draws attention are population projections. While anyone can put together a population projection, many in New York turns to the projections done by Cornell University's Program of Applied Demographics (PAD). The projections done by PAD are in 5 year intervals and currently project to 2040. The projections are based upon rates of change estimated from historic data. This means that the projections reflect what would happen if the rates of population growth and decline stay as they were. The projections are not meant to be forecasts; forecasts are predictions of future conditions while these projections are meant to gain insight into what might happen if the future looks like the past.

For our region, these three versions of our past, and our future, are a sort of mixed bag - they are much like the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good may be the decennial census counts. These can be considered "good" in that they are very accurate, generally speaking. The tremendous effort needed to identify housing units, and count the people in those units, provides very accurate numbers when it comes to our population counts. The chart below shows you the census counts for the Herkimer-Oneida Counties region from 1970 to the most recent census done in 2010.

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The Bad are the Population Estimates. They are bad, and that is a relative term, in that they appear to be consistently underestimating our population. Looking at the blue dotted line on the chart below, you can see that in about 1994, right through the Census in 2010, the estimates (based on the ninth vintage year in each cycle - 1999 and 2009 estimates) have consistently underestimated our population by around two percent. Some would maintain that two percent is negligible from a statistical standpoint; of course to the degree that these estimates impact federal or state formulas for funding, or business location decisions, that statistical distinction is anything but negligible.

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The Ugly comes down to the population projections, in this case those offered by PAD. While not arguing the methodology, the projections, as they note, are not forecasts - they assume that nothing in the future is different from anything in the past. And in the case of the past, they may or may not take into account special issues or circumstances for our region, such as the impact of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. Regardless, the projections see the last decade's population stabilization as fleeting and would suggest a continuing (and even accelerating) decline of population for the region in the future.

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In reality these are very different measures, with very different assumptions. But they are the numbers that are often used to define our region.