Is the Census Bureau On Track For Another Estimating Fiasco? |

This has implications for Dennis, the elimination of the Census long form leaves us with only estimates of economic data. These estimates followed upon the population estimates of the previous decade which illustrated annual population growth. This ended up overestimating both the town and county’s 2000 population.

The first statistics to come out of the American Community Survey (the “replacement” for the long form) has been based upon the incorrect population estimates. This leaves us with unworkable numbers and a need to develop our own estimates.


Rent and Mortgage Costs as a Percentage of Available Income

Earlier today I posted, Article: Where Working Households Are Struggling the Most to Pay Their Rent.  I noted that I would follow up with information specific to Dennis. Below is the relevant information.

According to American FactFinder from the Census Bureau, there are 1,508 rental units in Dennis. Of these, 958 are rented by people earning below 80% of the county’s median income. An additional 150 are rented by people earning between 80% and 120% of Barnstable County’s median income. Of the renters, 28.7% of the households earning less than 120% of the county’s median income are paying over 30% of their monthly income on housing costs.

On the ownership side, the numbers are equally ominous, 3,123 owner occupied housing units (59.1% of all owner occupied housing in Dennis) are occupied by people earning less than 120% of the county’s median income. Of this, 1,970 are occupied by people earning less than 80% of the county’s median income and an additional 1,153 units are occupied by people earning between 80% and 120% of the county median. Mortgage costs exceed 30% of income for 69% of the homeowners earning less than 120% of median income. For those earning less than 80% of median income 57.6% pay more than 30% of their income for mortgage costs.  For those earning between 80% and 120% of the county’s median income, the figure is a whopping 88.6% (1,0121 of 1,153 owner occupied housing units).

What this boils down to is, 46.8% of the year-round housing units are occupied by people who earn less than 120% of median income and are paying more than 30% of their incomes for housing. This illustrates a continuing need for the town to place an emphasis on the creation of affordable housing.

More Census Population Information

I just completed doing a comparison of Census Population shifts between 2000 and 2010 at the smallest Census geographic level, known as the block level.  This was a bit of a challenge as these small data areas actually changed dramatically between the two censuses and many boundaries did not remain the same.  After working with correlation tables provided by the Census Bureau I can provide the following map which illustrates where we grew and where we lost population.

As I noted here, the Town of Dennis lost 1,766 year-round residents between 2000 and 2010.  The map illustrates that the population loss was spread out pretty evenly through out town, with every village having areas with fewer year-round residents.  The map also identified an under-count in the 2000 Census, the Eagle Pond Nursing Home does not appear to have been counted by census takers in 2000, thus what appears to be a dramatic 117 person increase in population in an Industrial Zone although only four new homes were constructed within this Census geographical area in this time period.

Some of the changes are pretty obvious to the trained eye, there are neighborhoods with older, and more recent, subdivisions which started building new homes, accounting for population growth in these areas.  Other changes are more subtle, a shift between seasonal and year-round housing having some neighborhoods with more people and others with fewer people on Census Day.

The next step is to do the same analysis for the actual housing stock.

Census Changes: You Heard it Here First

Yesterday the Cape Cod Times published an article related to census changes, U.S. Census: Young adults flee Cape Cod, WBUR followed up on this story, As Youth Flee And Elderly Grow Older, Cape Cod Worries.  The two stories pretty well back up what I wrote about back in May, Fun With Numbers – Actually Dennis Is Growing, During the Summer.

The Cape is losing its young people.  In Dennis, the growth is occurring in the “empty-nest” age group, not, as these articles illustrated, in the oldest age group.  As we look ahead, obviously we need to be concerned with the needs of the aging population.  However, we cannot lose focus on the need to keep our town, or make it, more balanced.  We need to listen to the young professionals who are coming to the Cape.  Find out what they need, what attracted them here if they arrived for other communities, and see how we can meet these needs.

I have started hearing some of these ideas.  Some will be more contentious than others, providing activities and facilities attractive to families with children. But they are issues we need to think about in order to attract young families back to our area.  If you have ideas as to what we should be talking about, and perhaps trying to attract to Dennis to provide a more balanced community population, leave a comment, we are updating the Local Comprehensive Plan and need your ideas.

2010 Census Interesting Insights, Part 2

Back in April I wrote about an Atlantic Magazine story that suggested population growth was not the single deciding factor in the economic health of a region (2010 Census Interesting Insights).  I finally got a chance to review the follow-up story on this subject that looked at Metropolitan Areas and compared their productivity growth, and the study that these two articles are based upon (Growth without Growth:Population and Productivity Change in U.S. Metropolitan Areas, 1980-2006).

The study suggests that the area is faring quite well in the big picture.  The study looks at the changes that take place in the average wage per job between 1980 and 2006 as well as the average change in population.  The analysis shows that Barnstable  had the 14th highest growth in average wage per job in country for all Metropolitan Areas.  The study lists this as Barnstable Town as opposed to the Barnstable-Yarmouth MSA, however, it is safe to assume that the data is reflective of the entire Metropolitan Area, of which Dennis is a part.  For instance, the average wage per job for Dennis, according to the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns grew by 50.4% between 1998 and 2008.

Fun With Numbers – Actually Dennis Is Growing, During the Summer

In the past decade Dennis lost 1,766 year-round residents. We are now beginning to acquire information available to allow us to understand the nature of this population shift.

The under 18 population dropped by 720 people in the decade. This is nearly a 27% drop in this segment of the population in the decade. Given overall population dropped by only 11.1%, and in 2000 the under 18 population was 17% of the total population in Dennis, it is safe to say that there are fewer young people in Dennis in 2010 than there was in 2000.

Now that the Census has started to release information about the age of people in town, we can see that families with young children were leaving town. If we attempt to track the population in 2000 that was under 15 years old, we find that there were 2,190 people in this age group. Ten years later, these children make up the Dennis population between 10 and 24 years old. The 2010 population in this age cohort drops by 613 people. Obviously some people leave for college in this age group, so, if we break it down even more finely, we see drops in every age cohort. Children under 5 in 2000 become the 10 – 14 year old age group in 2010, this age cohort drops by 146 children. Similarly the 5 – 9 year age cohort in 2000 sees 239 of these children gone in the 15 to 19 age cohort.

We also know that the 18 and over population dropped as well, by 1,046 people, or 6.5%. This drop in year-round population is nowhere near as dramatic as in the younger age group.

The population that was between 20 and 39 years old in 2000 make up the 30 to 49 age cohort in 2010, this age cohort, those most likely to have had children living in Dennis in 2000, saw a drop of 895 people. Essentially illustrating a significant out-migration of people of child bearing age leaving the town.

Interestingly, we lost significant population in the oldest age cohorts, decade over decade as well. The 70 plus population in 2010, which represents the 60 plus age cohort in 2000, shows a drop of 1,248 people. This change includes, obviously deaths, but is also represents others who have simply chosen to not winter on the Cape any longer. Looking at it closely, we see that the 60-64 age cohort in 2000, drops by 179 people by 2010 when they are between 70 and 74. Similarly, the 65 -69 age cohort in 2000 drops by 327 people by 2010 when the are 75 – 79 years of age.

So, with all these people leaving, where did we gain population? That would fall squarely in the age cohort that was between 40 and 60 years old in 2000. This age cohort grew by 509 people during the past decade, meaning more people moved into Dennis in this age cohort than left during the decade, as they all grew ten years older.

Ultimately, the loss of younger people, and the growth in people between 50 and 70, results in a significantly older Dennis the median age was 49.4. In 2010 the median age has jumped to 55.1. Men are younger than women, with a male median age of 53.2 (up from 47.9 in 2000) and female median age of 56.8 (up from 50.7 in 2000).

We also know that occupied housing units dropped, by 576 units, or 7.7% of the housing units occupied in 2000 no longer being occupied. However, in a strange twist, total housing units grew by 1,481 housing units, or 10.5%. Essentially boiling down to a vacancy level of 55.5% of all housing units being vacant on Census day. The breakdown between seasonal housing and vacant housing is also now available. Dennis seasonal housing has grown to 50.9% of all housing units. Looking at this figure, we can determine a number of things.

• The year-round vacant housing in Dennis change very minimally in the past decade.

• The housing units which were occupied in 2000 and now appear as vacant in the 2010 Census have been converted to Seasonal Housing.

• New housing added since 2000, 1,481 housing units, reflect additional growth in the seasonal population of the town.

In 2000 Dennis had 2.12 people per occupied year-round housing unit. In 2010 this number has dropped to 2.05 people, clearly illustrating a drop in household size – i.e. reflective of the loss of children in Dennis. Seasonal population, those owning second homes in Dennis is, quite likely, similar to the Dennis population. Perhaps a few more children, but not dramatically so.  About 80% of the seasonal housing units appear to be seasonally owner occupied.  Rental seasonal housing units, are targeted, based upon rental permits, to a much higher occupancy rate.

If we considered only the population in housing units (excluding hotels, Recreational Vehicles and cottages), Dennis had an estimated summer population of 37,785 people in 2010 as opposed to one of about 28,800 in 2000, a growth in summer population of 8,985 people or roughly 31%.

Finally, when residents of area hotels, recreational vehicles and those who work in Dennis, the town has a summertime daytime population approaching if not exceeding 50,000 people.