Archive for Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Census statistics

A larger-than-expected population increase in Lawrence is a pleasant surprise, but fluctuating census figures could cause us to wonder what other surprises are in store.

June 29, 2010

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There’s no mystery about why public officials are so focused on population statistics, but sometimes the fluctuations and the method for determining population totals are a little hard to figure out.

Last week, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that Lawrence’s population had made a surprising gain of 1.7 percent in 2009. That was great news after several years when the city’s growth rate was under 1 percent.

But it was surprising news because sales tax revenue and the number of jobs in Douglas County have lagged during that time. The real estate market reportedly picked up somewhat last year but that might be a result of a homebuyers tax credit that went into effect.

The 1.7 percent population increase for Lawrence in 2009 amounts to 1,544 people, but no one really counted those people. Every 10 years, the Census Bureau attempts to actually count people, but in the years in between they just estimate. The bureau’s method, as explained in what it probably thinks is a simple eight-page summary on its website, involves using birth and death data along with complicated formulations for net domestic and international migration.

You know what they say about “lies, damned lies and statistics.”

The Census counting method is, no doubt, statistically sound, but that doesn’t necessarily make it accurate. In the last three years, city officials have been unpleasantly surprised by population figures that showed slow annual growth of 0.5 percent, 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. This year, they were pleasantly surprised by an increase of 1.7 percent. The figure for 2010 will be an actual count, rather than an estimate. What “surprises” will it hold?

The size of Lawrence’s population can have a significant impact on federal funding and any number of planning issues. For instance, the city made a major funding commitment several years ago to expand the Clinton Water Treatment Plant to respond to expected population growth in the city. If the population and the number of water customers doesn’t grow, the city will be hard-pressed to pay for the multi-million-dollar expansion without significantly increasing local water bills.

The 1.7 percent population increase appears to be good news, but fluctuations in the figures also give cause for caution. Until other indicators catch up with the census estimates, it seems city officials would be smart to be conservative in their planning for Lawrence’s growth.

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

"For instance, the city made a major funding commitment several years ago to expand the Clinton Water Treatment Plant to respond to expected population growth in the city. If the population and the number of water customers doesn’t grow, the city will be hard-pressed to pay for the multi-million-dollar expansion without significantly increasing local water bills."

Folks let's NOT get duped by this information. The only group that wants this water plant is the real estate industry. The real estate executives love taxpayers to subsidize their wild tax increasing schemes.

There are more than 7 million homes on the market with more expected in the near future.

Bush/Cheney put 11 million out of jobs by their reckless management of the financial institution.

"And, yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities ignoring their regulatory responsibilities.

So, no, a bubble and a Ponzi scheme are not the same. But they have elements in common. Usually, however, the losers in a Ponzi scheme are simply the direct investors, the schemer’s marks. A bubble like the housing bubble can wreak havoc on all of us."

Arthur MacEwan is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Dollars & Sense Associate.

Local taxpayers need to be PO'd!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Flooding markets is dumb economics! Local real estate executives brought us economic displacement NOT economic growth by this tax increasing scheme:

By Kim McClure

July 24, 2009

To the editor:

The July 14 editorial asks, “What’s downtown going to look like five, 10 or 15 years from now?” The answer can be known, and the picture is not pretty.

Lawrence has enough spending to support about 4.1 million square feet of retail space, but the City Commission permitted developers to expand the supply to over 5.5 million square feet.

Lawrence has too much retail space chasing too few vendors, which means that many stores go empty, especially in the older shopping centers like downtown.

The surplus development has stalled redevelopment plans downtown and has pushed the vacancy rates so high that disinvestment and blight now threaten. Investment, both public and private, is wasted. The taxpayers’ $8 million parking garage stands largely empty. The Hobbs-Taylor building and the 600 block of Massachusetts should be the top performing spaces in the community, but they have significant vacancies.

The recession has contributed to the problem, but had we properly managed our growth we would be much better off.

The developers’ short-term gain is now our long-term loss. Managed growth would have prevented much of the problem and would have protected and enhanced our downtown.

It will take many, many years to absorb this surplus space and, until this happens, it will be hard for downtown to compete. We can only look forward to many years of high vacancy and disinvestment. We need a City Commission that knows how to pace the growth of supply so as to protect our unique downtown.

McClure is from Lawrence

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/jul/24/retail-space/?letters_to_editor

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

"Last week, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that Lawrence’s population had made a surprising gain of 1.7 percent in 2009. That was great news after several years when the city’s growth rate was under 1 percent."

Please explain why this is good news. And the fact that it bails out city planning policy based on cancerous growth doesn't really get there.

CHKNLTL 5 years, 1 month ago

Duh! People are stuck just renting here because they can't afford to move away, they can't get a job to pay to finish school, and they can't save because many have children now.

I want to buy property (and thus PAY TAXES) but I am 24 with no credit and not enough income to get a loan so all of you old people will just have to keep paying it for all of us.

It's too bad the census doesn't gather any information about the poverty levels in Lawrence. But I found one for 2009 at this link. http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Lawrence-Kansas.html

This is the link to the main page. http://www.city-data.com/city/Lawrence-Kansas.html

Kasha 5 years, 1 month ago

Dolph Simons, Jr. is right to question the population increase in Lawrence and the fluctuating Census Figures. I live in an Independent Living Facility, and as far as I have been able to determine, each resident received TWO Census Forms to fill out and return. An expensive mistake for the Federal Government to make. We also received TWO copies of the notice to be on the lookout for the Census Form, and TWO copies of the reminder to fill out the Census Form. Unfortunately, Senior Citizens grew up in a generation when we not only lived within our budgets (are you listening School Board, City Commission, Planning Commission, et al?) and to pay bills and respond to business mail immediately. So.........yes, many of the residents here ended up submitting TWO copies of the Census Form. Since I have serious doubts about the intelligence and common sense of politicians and other officials, I'm more inclined to think that the "population increase" is due to these duplicate forms being counted twice. Really. Who would want to live in one of the most expensive cities in Kansas! A population increase is a far stretch.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

Nearly 15 million people are officially counted as unemployed in the United States, and more than 6 million of these have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. Another 11 million are the “hidden” unemployed: jobless workers who have given up looking for work and part-time workers who want full-time jobs. Unemployment has especially affected minority communities; the official black teenage unemployment rate, for example, stands at 42%.

The moral case for urgently addressing the unemployment issue is clear. The costs of unemployment, especially prolonged unemployment, are devastating. Self-worth is questioned, homes are lost, families stressed, communities disrupted. Across the land, the number one issue is jobs, jobs, jobs.

The economic case for how to address the jobs issue is also clear. As Keynes argued during the Great Depression, federal government spending can directly create jobs. And the $787 billion stimulus package approved by Congress in February 2009 did help pull the economy back from disaster, when it was shedding 20,000 jobs a day in late 2008 and early 2009.

But we still have a long way to go. To get back just to where we were when the recession began in December 2007, the economy would need to create 11.1 million jobs: 8.4 million to replace the jobs lost and 2.7 million to absorb new workers who have entered the labor market since then.

Despite a pickup of economic activity recently, long-term projections are that the unemployment rate will fall only gradually over the next several years. The Congressional Budget Office forecast for the unemployment rate for 2012 is a stubbornly high 8%. So why are we not moving more aggressively to reduce unemployment?

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0510wolfson.html

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Well, there is that pesky deficit problem.

Bad_Brad 5 years, 1 month ago

"The Census counting method is, no doubt, statistically sound ..."

ORLY???

tnt1985 5 years, 1 month ago

The surprise to come is that there has been a sudden 99% decline in the number of Obama bumper stickers in Lawrence. Maybe they will give one to each of the 500,000 census workers who will soon re-enter the workforce (once their unemployment runs out). Meanwhile, let's all Hope for change

notajayhawk 5 years, 1 month ago

"The 1.7 percent population increase appears to be good news, but fluctuations in the figures also give cause for caution. Until other indicators catch up with the census estimates, it seems city officials would be smart to be conservative in their planning for Lawrence’s growth."

Except perhaps planning for social services and handouts. Seems like you're getting more people with no money.

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