Posted by: Josh Lehner | September 10, 2018

PSA: New Census Data, Put Your Hands Up!

It’s that time of year again where we get new Census data! This week we will get 2017 snapshots of income, poverty, household formation and the like. First up will be the Current Population Survey estimates, followed a day later by the American Community Survey. Here’s how I will be celebrating this week. True story.

It’s important to keep in mind that all of these data are backward looking. They tell us how things changed a year ago. That said they are very important markers that track socio-economic progress. In advance of the new data, I thought I would lay out a few expectations of what we think the data will, or should show. These are largely a continuation of the trends seen in recent years. The big picture should show continued improvements across a broad range of metrics including by region, by quintile, by age, by race or ethnicity and the like.

  • Household incomes rising across the board and the poverty rate taking another step down. That said, median household income unlikely to rise quite as much as the past couple of years (6-7% not adjusting for inflation). The underlying dynamics will be what I’m watching for. The change in the number of households, number of workers, number of full-time workers, and changes in wages. All of those drive overall household income trends.
  • Depending upon which inflation measure you use, inflation-adjusted income gains are likely to be less. Headline inflation (CPI or PCE) was 0.9% or 0.7% faster in 2017 than in 2016. If you use core inflation — excluding food and energy prices — the results will be more stable.
  • Regional income differences in Oregon. The Willamette Valley and Bend should see ongoing gains and we should finally see a pop in the Rogue Valley numbers where household incomes have lagged underlying economic growth. There is an outside chance all of our metro areas’ median household incomes will be above their pre-recession readings on an inflation-adjusted basis, except for Grants Pass. Portland and Salem are already there. Bend, Corvallis, and Eugene are close. Albany and Medford are within striking distance.

Additional housing-related items I will be watching include homeownership rates by age group, household formation by age group, changes in the local distribution of household incomes. For comparisons, I will be updating income, homeownership, and educational attainment for the 100 largest metro areas in the country. I will also be updating prime working-age employment rates for metros and states. We will also get updated numbers for a whole host of measures including broadband access, commuting and the like.

Unfortunately we will have to wait until October for the underlying microdata where we can crunch some numbers ourselves and do more in-depth analysis. And for those interested in data for all counties, or smaller geographic areas like block groups, we have to wait until December when the 5 year ACS estimates are released.

Stay tuned for periodic updates here on the site and in our presentations as we unpack this annual data present.


  1. […] Source: PSA: New Census Data, Put Your Hands Up! | Oregon Office of Economic Analysis […]

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