Economic Segregation in Columbus

Luckily, I saved all of my maps that I did for this report, so not all was lost. Instead of making it a 2-part post, I’m just reposting it all in one this time.

In any case, economic segregation is basically where people living in the same city are segregated in terms of financial characteristics, such as housing prices or income. This is considered negative as the more economically segregated an area is, the harder it is for people, especially in lower income brackets, to move up financially. My report focuses on household income within census tracts in Franklin County and where those household incomes are changing the most.

First of all, let’s look at the household income levels around the county, both in 2000 and 2014.

In 2000, the median household income for the county was highest in the Upper Arlington and Grandview, Dublin, Bexley, Hilliard and the New Albany area. Downtown and adjacent areas had the lowest, as well as the general urban core and East Side.

By 2014, household income remained the highest in the same areas it was in 2000, but there were major improvements in many parts of the urban core, especially around Downtown, the Near East Side, Near South, Clintonville and the Short North. To illustrate this change better, take a look at the next map.

Unfortunately, because not all of 2014’s census tracts existed in 2000, I don’t have data for the entire county for comparison. But the trend is very clear. The areas that saw the biggest improvements in median household incomes were in the dead center of the county- Downtown, Near South and East Sides, as well as the Short North and Grandview. Only parts of Hilliard, Clintonville and Worthington really saw anything remotely as close. This indicates, at least to me, that the beating heart of revitalization and growth in the county is along the High Street corridor.

So now that we’ve established what the incomes look like across the county, let’s break it down further into income level brackets. This will help determine where economic segregation is a problem and where it isn’t.

The lowest household income I looked at was Below $25K a year. In 2000, this income level was most heavily concentrated in the Downtown area and adjacent neighborhoods. The Near East Side, as well as Linden down through the east side of I-71 had the county’s highest % of households that earned this level of income. Hilltop and the West Broad Corridor were also fairly high.

By 2014, the lowest household income level looked largely the same. However, there were also some noticeable difference. Downtown, the Near East Side, the Near South Side and parts of the North High Corridor saw obvious declines in this population, while it seemed to spread further east outside of 270 into suburban areas.

In the map above, we can see how Below $25K household incomes had changed in the tracts between 2000 and 2014 by % point change. Ironically, the urban core, especially along High and Broad streets saw the most consistent declines in this population while areas around and outside of 270 saw the most consistent increases. The good news is that more tracts saw declines than increases, but the map does indicate that poverty is perhaps moving further out from the core.

Next up is the household income level change that would be considered closest to middle class- $50K-$99K.

The urban core areas clearly saw the most consistent increases in middle class household income levels, while the outer suburbs almost universally declined in this metric. One explanation for this is that the lowest incomes in the core moved up into the middle class, while in the suburbs, middle class incomes moved into the upper class incomes. That would explain both the rise in the core, but the decline in the suburbs. But to prove if this is true or not, we have to look at the highest income levels- those of $100K and above.

In 2000 the highest incomes were almost entirely outside of 270 except for Bexley and the Northwest Side communities like Dublin and Upper Arlington. It is likely that the New Albany area also had high incomes, but again, those tracts didn’t exist in 2000, so it is difficult to give that information.

By 2014, while the Northern areas of Franklin County continued to have the highest incomes in general, gains were made in many parts of the county, including several within the urban core area.

Between 2000 and 2014, there was almost universal growth of $100K+ incomes in Franklin County, with only small areas seeing declines. The Northwest communities, as well as areas in and around Downtown seemed to do the best.

Okay, so incomes levels are clearly improving in most of the county, but especially in urban core areas. But what is the difference between the highest and lowest incomes within each census tract? To find out, I took the % of households in each tract earning less than $25K a year vs. the % of households earning $100K or more. The % point difference between these two groups is a good indication of how much economic segregation exists. The closer this number is to 0, the more economically integrated a tract is. Negative numbers indicate that Below $25K household incomes outweigh those making $100K or more, while positive numbers are the reverse.

The 2000 map shows that Below $25K household incomes dominate inside I-270, particularly around Downtown and the East Side. Many tracts contain at least 40 % points more $25K incomes than $100K incomes. This shows that poverty was deeply concentrated around the center of the county. Suburban areas were more dominated by the reverse, where middle and upper class households were concentrated.

In 2014, the severely concentrated levels of the lowest incomes have eased in most locations. There are fewer tracts of 40+ point differences, especially around Downtown and the general High Street Corridor. Only the Campus area, for obvious reasons, and parts of Linden, largely remain unchanged.

So what does all this ultimately mean about economic segregation in Frankly County? To get a simplified sense of that picture, considering the final set of maps.

In the coloring, the blue tracts are tracts that have income point differences that are between -15 and +15. These are the tracts that are most economically integrated. Green tracts are those with differences of +/- 15 to 29 points, while orange represent those with +/- 30 points or more. Orange tracts are the most economically segregated. In 2000, most of the orange tracts were within I-270. In fact, they very closely represent the most urban part of Columbus- the 1950 city boundary. They are amazingly similar. Meanwhile, almost all the outer suburbs in 2000 were well integrated.

Fast forward to 2014 and the picture becomes significantly more convoluted. Being in the urban core vs. the suburbs does not automatically guarantee economic integration. Many suburbs are now as severely segregated as some of the urban core is, while parts of the urban core are as integrated as some suburbs.

Overall, it appears that Franklin County has improved its economic integration in the last decade or so, but there is still more than can be done. Economic incentives for providing more mixed-income housing and bringing more jobs to urban areas would likely help achieve a more integrated city and county.

Columbus Area Murders by Census Tract 2008-2012

A few days ago, I posted maps for murders by zip code. Because zip codes encompass such large areas, they aren’t as accurate in showing where murders are taking place within them. To help show this more, I broke the maps down into census tracts. While the tracts can include large areas also, they are much smaller than zip codes and allow us to see more at the neighborhood level.

So here they are.






The same forces spreading murder further out into the suburbs in the zip codes seems to be at play in tracts as well.


The High Street corridor from Merion Village up through Worthington has very low or non-existent murder rates. This is also true for most of Whitehall, surprisingly, Bexley, most of the Northwest Side and much of the North Side, apart from the Tamarack Circle area.

Tract Profile #1- Tract 1, 110 and 120

I didn’t get a chance to post this last week, but here is the first in the tract profile series. It’s just about everything anyone wanted to know about an area based on its tracts.

Tract #1 was the furthest north tract in the city boundaries at the time that tracts came about in the 1930 census. It included the areas of Clintonville, Whetstone and Beechwold, communities largely built between 1920 and 1950.

The population grew rapidly between 1930 and 1950, rising by almost 7x. By 1960, the US Census split the growing tract into two parts, #110 and #120, and they have remained through the present day.

Population of Tract #1, #110 and #120 Combined
1930: 1,252
1940: 2,618
1950: 6,944
1960: 9,456
1970: 8,850
1980: 7,374
1990: 6,902
2000: 6,645
2010: 6,506

2010 Columbus City Tract Population Ranking out of 156
110: 59th
120: 68th

Total and % Change by Decade
1940: +1,366 +109.11%
1950: +4,326 +165.24%
1960: +2,512 +36.18%
1970: -606 -6.41%
1980: -1,476 -16.68%
1990: -470 -6.37%
2000: -259 -3,75%
2010: -139 -2.09%

Population Density
2010: 3,654.0
2000: 3,733.4
1990: 3,877.7
1980: 4,142.9
1970: 4,972.2
1960: 5,312.7

2010 Columbus City Tract Rank for Density out of 156

So the population of this area peaked around 1960 and has declined every decade since. However, the good news is that the rate of decline has been slowing since the 1970s. Of the two tracts that currently make up the original Tract #1 boundary, one grew in population during the 2000s, so the area is seeing a gradual turnaround.

Housing 2010
Occupied Units: 95.66%
Vacant Units: 4.34%
Average Year Built: 1949
Housing Units built before 1959: 82.73%
Housing Units built 1960 and Later: 17.27%
Median Rent: $853.00
Median Home Price: $202,750.00

So definitely this area is mostly from the mid-20th century, with above average home prices and low vacancy rates.

Demographics for Area

2010: 6,233 95.8%
2000: 6,428 96.7%
1990: 6,823 98.9%
2010: 84 1.3%
2000: 54 0.8%
1990: 26 0.4%
2010: 78 1.2%
2000: 72 1.1%
1990: 40 0.6%
2010: 103 1.6%
2000: 63 0.9%
1990: 27 0.4%
2010: 111 1.7%
2000: 91 1.4%
1990: 13 0.2%

White Population Tract Ranking
110: 1st
120: 2nd
Black Population Tract Ranking
110: 155th
120: 154th
Asian Population Tract Ranking
110: 102nd
120: 86th
Hispanic Population Tract Ranking
110: 138th
120: 154th

The area is clearly majority White and doesn’t seem to be changing very quickly. The area contains the Whitest tracts within the city of Columbus.

Breakdown of First Reported Ancestry
German: 39.92%
Irish: 19.99%
English: 14.33%
Italian: 7.33%
French: 6.20%
Polish: 5.96%
American: 2.82%
Scottish: 2.73%
Dutch: 2.30%
Welsh: 2.22%
Hungarian: 2.10%
Swedish: 1.80%
Swiss: 1.46%
Scotch-Irish: 1.40%

Ancestry of Asian Population
Chinese: 27.19%
Indian: 26.59%
Other: 14.48%
Japanese: 12.90%
Korean: 11.31%
Filipino: 7.54%

Native Born: 96.98%
Foreign Born: 3.02%
English Spoken at Home: 96.4%
Spanish Spoken at Home: 0.96%
Other Languages Spoken at Home: 2.64%

Gender and Age
Male Population: 46.75%
Female Population: 53.25%

Under 5: 5.1%
5 to 9: 4.45%
10 to 14: 4.01%
15 to 19: 3.19%
20 to 24: 2.92%
25 to 34: 15.47%
35 to 44: 16.11%
45 to 54: 15.71%
55 to 64: 16.38%
65 to 74: 8.21%
75 and Over: 8.48%

Median Male Age: 42.5
Median Female Age: 46.0
Median Age: 44.2

Tract Median Age Rank in Columbus out of 156
110: 41.6 138th
120: 46.8 153rd

The area skews much older than Columbus’s average of around 31 years old, and females make up more of the population. European ancestry dominates.

Income and Poverty
Per-Capita Income: $39,261
Median Individual Income: $43,964
Median Household Income: $71,240

Population in Poverty: 10.0%
Families in Poverty: 2.99%

Educational Attainment
Less than High School: 1.49%
High School Graduate: 14.44%
Some College: 22.09%
Bachelor’s Degree: 35.27%
Masters, Doctorate or Other Professional Degree: 19.15%

School Enrollment Preference
Public Schools: 47.38%
Private Schools: 52.62%

Overall, the Clintonville/Beechwold/Whetstone areas are mid-20th century neighborhoods that are well educated, earn more than the national average, have an older population than the Columbus average, and skew female and European. The population also values private and public education fairly equally, but private schools are the winner.