Friday, November 22, 2013

Comparing ACS Data: Economic Changes Over the Last Five Years in Oneida County

An earlier examination of the social changes in Oneida County suggested by the single year estimates of the American Communities Survey (ACS) data between 2008 and 2012, came with a considered warning about placing the data and trends found there within context. It is important to exercise due caution when looking at significant changes in the ACS over time such that the trends that seem to be present make some sense in the larger picture. This is just as true about the economic profiles found in the ACS as it was with the social profiles.

Income Measures: That being said, let's begin with what the data does NOT show us - or more accurately, what it shows us has not changed in the last five years. Specifically, that the income levels of the region have remained relatively stable over that time frame. Income can be measured several ways. Typically we measure income based on the family median income, the household median income or the per capita income of the county. Here's a look back at these measures in the 2011 Five Year ACS for every municipality in the region.

The graph below shows the single year ACS income data from 2008 to 2012. Based on the margins of error for each income measure, the reality is that income levels haven't changed significantly since 2008 for families, households or on a per capita basis.For families it remains around $60,000; for households it is about $47,000; and on a per capita basis it is around $25,000. The fluctuations seen across the last five years are not statistically significant.

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Poverty: At the same time as income has remained relative stable, however, we have seen a significant increase in the percentage of the population that has fallen into poverty.Looking at the population as a whole, the percent of the County's residents who live in poverty has climbed from around 14% in 2008 to about 16.4% in 2012. Similarly, there has been an increase in the percentage of families in poverty over this period - from 10% in 2008 to 12.5% of families in 2012.

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Health Insurance Coverage: The last piece of economic data noted here that has changed significantly since 2008 is the number of people covered by health insurance.  Health insurance is measured in two broad sectors - specifically as being provided by the private sector or as being provided by the public sector.

These two types of coverage are not mutually exclusive, but may be. In other words, you could have someone who receives private insurance, and also has some public/government insurance coverage as well. Keep that in mind as you look at the graphic below, in that the data is not intended to add up to 100% - the coverage by either a private vender or public resource is totally independent of one another.

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Statistically speaking we have seen a decrease in the percentage of the population with private insurance coverage in the last five years. It has fallen from around 72% of the population in 2008 to about 67% of the current population. In terms of public insurance coverage, we have seen an increase in the percentage of the county's population using public insurance options from about 35% in 2008 to roughly 39% as of 2012.

While other comparative data may show statistically significant changes between 2008 and 2012, these few items are the ones that seem to suggest decipherable trends worth noting.