Archive for Sunday, December 26, 2010

Census numbers reflect city’s qualities compared to peer communities

December 26, 2010


With New Year’s around the corner, it is the time of year that individuals often step in front of the mirror and do a little self-evaluation.

Maybe it is a good time for communities to do so, too.

New information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey makes it easier than ever to compare Lawrence to other communities.

As a year-end exercise, we’ve taken a look at Lawrence and compared it with nine other university communities. There’s nothing magical about our method, other than we recognize that university communities often are their own unique creatures. Five of the communities we examined — Norman, Okla.; Champaign, Ill.; Iowa City, Iowa; Bloomington, Ind.; and Columbia, Mo. — are on a list of communities that Lawrence City Hall considers peer communities. We chose three more because we thought readers would be interested due to their proximity and Big 12 affiliation — Manhattan; Ames, Iowa; and Stillwater, Okla. And then we chose Boulder, Colo., because for whatever reason, Boulder seems to have become our rich cousin that promotes either admiration or disdain, depending on whom you talk to.

One last word about the information: It comes from surveys taken by the Census Bureau from 2005 to 2009. The results are the average of those five years, which is not so great for showing you the latest numbers, but is good for providing you a reliable number.

So, here we go. Mirror, mirror on the wall …

We could use more jobs. Local leaders often point to Lawrence’s lower-than-average unemployment rate. Indeed, Lawrence does traditionally have an unemployment rate below the nation’s. But when it comes to college towns, we’re a little on the high side. Over the five-year period we had the second-highest unemployment rate of the group.

Lawrence: 6.9 percent

Highest: Bloomington, 7.3 percent

Lowest: Manhattan, 4.6 percent

Group Average: 6.0 percent

National average: 7.2 percent

We drive a lot. Our average travel time to work is second-highest in the group.

Lawrence: 18.5 minutes

Highest: Norman, 19.9 minutes

Lowest: Champaign and Manhattan, 14.5 minutes

Group Average: 16.1 minutes

National Average: 25.2 minutes

We like our cars. Lawrence households are the second most likely of the group to have three or more vehicles.

Lawrence: 19.2 percent of households with three or more vehicles.

Highest: Manhattan, 20.4 percent

Lowest: Bloomington, 11.9 percent

Group Average: 15.9 percent

National Average: 20 percent

We spend a lot on our homes. Lawrence is second in a convoluted yet important category. The Census Bureau measures how many homeowners — not renters — spend 35 percent or more of their monthly income on housing costs. We have the second-highest number of people who fall into that category.

Lawrence: 22.8 percent spend more than 35 percent of monthly income on housing.

Highest: Boulder, 26.6 percent

Lowest: Ames, 13.9 percent

Group Average: 19 percent

National Average: 27.9 percent

Our men are dragging us down. Male, full-time, year-round workers in Lawrence have the fourth-lowest median salaries of the group. (In case you’re wondering, Lawrence females only were slightly better. They had the fifth-lowest salaries.)

Lawrence: $40,472

Highest: Boulder, $57,378

Lowest: Stillwater, $32,604

Group Average: $42,782 ($41,160 without Boulder)

National Average: $45,363

We have wages in the bottom third of the group but average home prices in the top third. Lawrence has the third-highest median home price in the group.

Lawrence: $168,100

Highest: Boulder, $464,200

Lowest: Stillwater, $133,000

Group Average: $185,780 ($154,844 without Boulder)

National Average: $185,400

Landlords love us. Lawrence was tied for the second-highest average monthly rent in the group.

Lawrence: $754

Highest: Boulder, $998

Lowest: Stillwater, $581

Group Average: $735 ($706 without Boulder)

National Average: $817

We’re blue collar. Well, if you consider manufacturing jobs blue collar, we are. Lawrence is tied for first in the group with the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs.

Lawrence: 7 percent of work force in manufacturing.

Highest: Tie between Lawrence, Champaign and Ames.

Lowest: Norman, 5.1 percent

Group Average: 6.1 percent

National Average: 11.2 percent

We know how to run a cash register. Lawrence was second in the group for the largest percentage of retail jobs.

Lawrence: 12.9 percent

Highest: Stillwater, 15.6 percent

Lowest: Ames, 10.2 percent

Group Average: 12.2 percent

National Average: 11.5 percent

We’re not as young as we think we are. Lawrence has the third oldest median age of any city in the group.

Lawrence: 25.0 years

Highest: Boulder and Norman, 27.9 years

Lowest: Bloomington and Manhattan, 22.8 years

Group Average: 24.6

National Average: 36.5 years

Interactive map

2010 Census Data


CorkyHundley 7 years, 6 months ago

"Could use more jobs" ha ha, good one. Larryville is the only town that strangers have to "pay" to visit. So if you are passing by on the Interstate would you pay a couple of bucks to visit a "sod" farm in Larryville or would you drive another 35 miles to see if K.C is any better?

Ha ha, "Could use more jobs".

Columbia has dozens of places to stay and places to eat and it does not cost money to get off the Interstate. What does Larryville have? Airport motel and Burger King. ha

For the geniuses in Kansas they need a billion dollar census to tell them they have issues.

All the Geniuses have to do is have KdOt do like they have done for years. Move the troll west and charge they same to the people forced to use 70. Put it west of town and then maybe businesses will build in North Lawrence since people do not have to pay to visit this village.

Property taxes will not have to be continually increased for the desperate Larryville government since there will actually be tax dollars generated from actual business sales.

huh, imagine that.

ha, "Could use more jobs"

Tim Quest 7 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, Lawrence is the only city in the world with a toll plaza. Good call, genius. Crazy people have weird vendettas, I guess.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 6 months ago

Wages in the bottom third, but house (and rent) pries in the upper third. Pretty telling stat.

jafs 7 years, 6 months ago

I've known this for years - I think it's a pretty well known fact about Lawrence - low wages and high real estate costs.

It's why a lot of people work elsewhere and live here, and vice-versa.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 months ago

Why would anyone want to move into a low wage city,with high cost of living plus commute to Topeka or Kansas City to make a living? Radio news has spoken often of both cities as a best bang for the buck on homes and still a reasonably decent job market. At the moment KCMO appears to be a buyers market on homes with 10,000 on the market according to the mayor.

Downtown KCMO appears to be making a strong comeback. Culturally KCMO metro is strong as well.

It's hard for Lawrence downtown business because of high rent perhaps created by buyers paying twice as much as downtown real estate is worth.... so I hear.

Lawrence movers and shakers trying to make Lawrence a KCMO metro shopping district makes people laugh. The money simply is not here and people have all they need in KCMO metro. Why not learn to accept Lawrence for what it is..... a college town with good basketball,art and music. Extra added attractions = Browns Shoe Fit,Weavers,Stich On,Mass Street Music,Free State Brewery,Central Soyfoods,Ingredient,Orient,Maddy and Sylas, The Replay,Antique Mall,Aimees Coffee Shop,Kief's Music,Zen Zero,La Parrilla,Sunflower Outdoor and Bike,Global Cafe,Cycle works,Liberty Hall, Bayleaf,The Merc,Checkers and I believe The Burger Stand and Esquinas will be around for awhile.

Then there is The Mirth, Francis Sporting Goods,Great Harvest Bakery, Wheatfields and last but not least Cottins Hardware.....the hardware store with most everything including great service.

Jimo 7 years, 6 months ago

I don't think you'll get much insight if you combine analysis of cities in close proximity to large metropolitan areas like Lawrence and isolated burgs that are the economic focus of their regions such as Columbia or Iowa City.

For example, there's an unmentioned distinction between wages earned in Lawrence and property values sustained significantly by wages being earned outside of Lawrence (and brought back within the City's boundaries). This problem doesn't exist in places like Iowa City or Columbia.

There are quite a lot of economic things that won't develop in Lawrence solely because anyone can hop in a car and be in a larger economic community several minutes later. (Want to shop Costco? Banana Republic? Lowe's? You won't be doing that in Lawrence ...nor is it obvious that Lawrence can support, by itself, this variety.) Likewise, a not inconsiderable number of people who live in surrounding communities would focus their economic spending in Lawrence ... absent other, larger metropolitan areas nearby. For every dollar coming to Lawrence from Lecompton or Baldwin, there's two or three dollars going to Topeka or Overland Park or Olathe, etc.

pizzapete 7 years, 6 months ago

I just like living here so I can have something to complain about, damn hippies.

KU_cynic 7 years, 6 months ago

Lower wages and higher housing costs. Tell me something I haven't known about for years.

Takeaway for city/county/USD497: Do not expect property values and property tax revenues to grow rapidly over the next several years. Do not act "shocked" when growing government budget wishes are not matched by revenue source realities.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 6 months ago

I did not see any information about our clueless, spineless, gutless yard sign-elected city "commission" that is run by a non-elected "city manager" (aka, gauleiter). Did this assessment count the number of roundabouts in the afflicted cities polled??

kernal 7 years, 6 months ago

I know it's sooo frustrating when we can't drive 50mph down a residential street posted at 30mph because of those stupid roundabouts. Then there's the speed bumps and those stupid signs about watching for children. Makes you wish the parents would just keep the darn brats fenced in the backyard or in the house, doesn't it frwent?

And while we're at it, how about that absurd city ordinance that says I have to pick up my dog's poop when we're out for a stroll. I mean really. Fang is not a sissy dog that carries a back pack carrying poop bags; he's a lean mean fighting chihuahua machine. If you don't like my dog's poop, then pick it up yourself. Oh, and if I have to keep my dog on a leash, you should be keeping that darn cat on one as well.

All these stupid rules are going to be the ruination of this town!

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Actually, although many people don't realize it, the "leash law" in this town applies to cats.

George Lippencott 7 years, 6 months ago

"Over the five-year period we had the second-highest unemployment rate of the group. Lawrence: 6.9 percent"

Some how this is counter intuitive. Our largest employers are governments (KU and Schools). Not very many layoffs there. What is driving that number? How is it calculated? Is it based on a population of 100K – 6900 or on a population minus the students – 4500? Does the author know?

Could we be attracting the unemployed rather than the employed we seek? Drawing unemployment in Lawrence just might be more fun than drawing unemployment in say Cherryvale?? Just think about the cash economy hereabouts??

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