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.

The Big Lie: The Midwest vs. The South

For 50 years now, the story has been how the South has been booming while the Midwest has languished in perpetual decline. Nearly every day, a new ranking or story comes about how great the South is in relation to its Northern neighbors, but the more I’ve looked at the numbers, the more I realize that the hype is built upon lies, half-truths and cherry-picking data.

The first data point we’re going to look at is Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, a measure of the total economic output, for the Midwest vs. the South.
Online Graphing

So on this measure, the South is doing pretty well vs. the Midwest… or so it seems at first. The advantage the South has, however, is Texas. Without the behemoth state, the South has had growth on pace with the Midwest, though the recession did knock the Midwest down a bit from a fairly wide gap. Even so, the Midwest is ahead of the South without Texas, making it pretty clear that Texas is a HUGE reason for the South’s growth. All by itself, it nearly double’s the region’s GDP. The Midwest has no such massively dominant state. So does this mean that the South has Texas to thank for all the attention it gets? More light will be shed on this as we go.

Now let’s look at GDP growth by decade for the regions.
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Again, on the surface the South does well. The 2000s were especially kind to the South, while the Midwest declined some, likely due to the double recessions that occurred. However, during the 2010s so far, the Midwest has been growing a bit faster than the South (without Texas), something which hasn’t happened since the 1970s. Once more, Texas shows up as being the main contributor by FAR vs. all other Southern states combined.

Taking GDP further, what does it look like per-capita for the regions?
Online Graphing
graph and charts

First of all, the data only goes back to 1987, and the 1997 jump is because the data collection sources changed. In any case, the Midwest region is the leader here. The South has been stagnant for the last decade or so, while the Midwest, aside from during the recession, has seen a steady rise. Since the recession, the pace of per-capita GDP growth has accelerated, and the gap between the region and the South has widened. The Midwest has reached the US average, while the South, with or without Texas, is well below it and not catching up. What does this mean? Well, that despite relatively healthy GDP total growth in the South, it has simply not been fast enough to keep pace with either the national average or the Midwest. The Midwest has a much stronger economic output per its population than the South does, by almost $10,000 per person.

What about income?
Online Graphing
graph and charts

I know this chart is a bit hard to see, but it runs from 1930-2013. What it shows is that the Midwest has long had the highest per-capita income of the two regions. In fact, the gap between the two has grown steadily wider over years, and has accelerated in the last 5. The Midwest, while just below the national average now, is ahead of the South as a whole, Texas alone and the South without Texas.

To illustrate the income change over the 1930-2013 period further, let’s look at % growth by decade.
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This chart actually shows that the South generally performed much better by rate of growth from the 1970s and earlier. Since then, the rate of growth between the regions has been much closer, and in the 1990s and 2010s, the Midwest grew faster. What this seems to indicate is that the long term growth rate in income is gradually turning more strongly towards the Midwest after a long period where the South had faster growth. The Midwest has also seen faster growth than the national average since the 1980s, not exactly an indication of some kind of sustained decline.

So far, the picture is not quite as one-sided as we’ve been told.

What’s more interesting, especially from a total GDP standpoint, is that the Midwest is smaller than the South as a whole. To be more equal, you’d have to include the Northeastern states. This throws the entire dynamic out the window. In fact, the North combined is still the largest regional economy of the 3 (North, South, West) by about 13 percentage points.

Ohio vs. the Midwest GDP and Income

The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently issued GDP numbers for 2012, along with revised data for previous years.

First, let’s look at how Ohio is doing in relation to the other Midwest states.

2012 Gross Domestic Product By State in Millions, Highest to Lowest
1. Illinois: $695,238
2. Ohio: $509,393
3. Michigan: $400,504
4. Indiana: $298,625
5. Minnesota: $294,729
6. Wisconsin: $261,548
7. Missouri: $258,832
8. Iowa: $152,436
9. Kansas: $138,953
10. Nebraska: $99,557
11. North Dakota: $46,016
12. South Dakota: $42,464

Total Midwest GDP in 2012 in Millions: $3,198,295

So Ohio has the 2nd largest economy in the Midwest, only behind Illinois and its Chicago powerhouse. Ohio has also reclaimed its spot as the 7th largest state economy after catching up to and surpassing New Jersey, which passed Ohio in 2006.

Ohio’s more than half-trillion economy is also growing faster than almost every state in the Midwest, as shown below.

Total GDP Change 2000-2012 in Millions, Highest to Lowest
1. Illinois: +$220,718
2. Ohio: +$128,498
3. Minnesota: +$105,911
4. Indiana: +$100,387
5. Wisconsin: +$84,193
6. Missouri: +$77,865
7. Michigan: +$63,045
8. Iowa: +$59,124
9. Kansas: +$53,231
10. Nebraska: +$42,224
11. North Dakota: +$27,750
12. South Dakota: +$18,426

Difference in Millions Between Ohio’s GDP and that of Other States 2000 and 2012
Ohio vs. Illinois
2000: -$93,865
2010: -$185,845
Ohio vs. Indiana
2000: $182,657
2010: $210,768
Ohio vs. Iowa
2000: $287,583
2010: $356,957
Ohio vs. Kansas
2000: $295,173
2010: $370,440
Ohio vs. Michigan
2000: $43,436
2010: $108,889
Ohio vs. Minnesota
2000: $192,077
2010: $214,664
Ohio vs. Missouri
2000: $199,928
2010: $250,561
Ohio vs. Nebraska
2000: $323,562
2010: $409,836
Ohio vs. North Dakota
2000: $362,629
2010: $463,377
Ohio vs. South Dakota
2000: $356,857
2010: $466,929
Ohio vs. Wisconsin
2000: $203,540
2010: $247,845

So Ohio has increased its GDP lead over every Midwest state except for Illinois.

Per-Capita GDP, however, is not Ohio’s strong point.

2012 Per-Capita GDP in Dollars, Highest to Lowest
1. North Dakota: $55,250
2. Minnesota: $47,028
3. Illinois: $46,161
4. Nebraska: $44,943
5. South Dakota: $43,181
6. Iowa: $42,222
7. Kansas: $41,070
8. Wisconsin: $39,308
9. Indiana: $39,065
10. Ohio: $37,690
11. Missouri: $36,815
12. Michigan: $35,298

Per-Capita GDP, does not tell us income, however.

2012 Per-Capita Income By State, Highest to Lowest
1. North Dakota: $51,893
2. Minnesota: $46,227
3. Illinois: $44,815
4. South Dakota: $43,659
5. Nebraska: $43,143
6. Iowa: $42,126
7. Kansas: $41,835
8. Wisconsin: $40,537
9. Ohio: $39,289
10. Missouri: $39,049
11. Michigan: $37,497
12. Indiana: $36,902

Ohio does slightly better here. The question would be, why is Ohio’s so low in comparison? It may have a bit to do with the overall cost of living, at least according to the following link.

Cost of Living Rank by State (out of 50), 2nd Quarter 2013
Nebraska: 2
Indiana: 5
Iowa: 9
Kansas: 11
Ohio: 13
Missouri: 16
Michigan: 19
Illinois: 20
Wisconsin: 23
North Dakota: 30
South Dakota: 31
Minnesota: 34

Ohio is less expensive to live in than 7 of the other Midwest states and is cheaper than 37 states in total. This almost certainly plays a role in wages. All in all, perhaps the state is far better off economically than the perception may indicate, at least by these metrics.

In Part 2, I’ll look at metro areas specifically.

Columbus-Area Zip Codes and their Economies

First, we have a map for the Columbus area that includes the % of of employees in a particular zip code from 2000-2010.

From this map, the urban areas of Columbus seem to have lost the most % of their employees the last decade, along with the far suburban and rural areas. The biggest growth was in the areas along and just outside of 270. This is an interesting map as it implies that the nearest suburban areas are attracting the most jobs, but that these suburbs are are both pulling from the inner core, but also from much further out.

The second map is for average employee income by zip code.

What this map seems to show is that, while jobs may be moving to the I-270 suburbs, pay for those jobs is decidedly mixed across the city. Downtown, for example, averaged some of the highest incomes in the city. Other strong areas include parts of Westerville, New Albany and Dublin. Most of the High Street corridor was fairly strong as well. The lowest incomes were almost entirely in rural and far suburban areas.

Finally, the % change of average income from 2000-2010.

This map is also a mixed bag. Most of the area saw wage growth, but where it occurred the strongest was definitely all over the map. Some suburbs had good and bad, and so did the urban core areas.

So what’s all this mean? Well, certainly it means that the total # of jobs as far as growth shifted to the 270 suburbs the last decade, but at the same time, those jobs that remained in the core areas still grew in income. So it appears that the city is becoming richer about on par with the suburbs, at least the last 10 years. The question becomes, what happens the next decade? If urban trends continue the way they have the past few years (which these maps don’t really take into account), it is entirely possible that some of the job growth will move back inward towards the urban core.