A Few Jackson County Findings from the 2018 American Community Survey

by Guy Tauer

October 30, 2019

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimates for 2018 were released recently. In Jackson County, median household income rose from $52,194 in 2017 to $56,546 in 2018, which as a statistically significant change, and good news to boot. A look at income distribution by income range shows a statistically significant change in two income groups: households with income from $75,000 to $99,999 increased from 11.2 percent in 2017 to 14.3 percent of all households in 2018, and households with income from $100,000 to $149,999 rose from 10.1 to 13.0 percent of all households in 2018. Households with income between $10,000 and $14,999 saw their share of total households decline from 4.5 percent in 2017 to 2.9 percent of all households in 2018.
Data showing the class of worker in Jackson County do not support the notion that the traditional employer-employee workforce is waning as more people become independent contractors, self-employed, and join the “gig economy.” While there is some evidence that more people are working for themselves as Uber or Lyft drivers, those shifts have not altered the overall worker class trends. In Jackson County, the percent of workers who were “self-employed in own non-incorporated business” fell from 13.5 percent in 2017 to 9.0 percent in 2018.
Commuting to Work

The mean travel time to work in Jackson County climbed slightly from 18.1 minutes in 2017 to 19.4 minutes in 2018. Approximately three-quarters of workers commuted to work in their own vehicles. About one out of 10 workers carpooled with others to work. The statistically significant changes from 2017 to 2018 were the percent of workers who used public transportation to get to work, up from 0.3 percent to 1.8 percent in 2018. The other statistically significant change was the percent who worked at home, declining from 10.0 percent to 6.7 percent in 2018.

The Census Bureau Has a New Data Website

If you have been accessing ACS data through the “American Factfinder” tool on the Census site, you won’t find the new 2018 figures there. Starting in the summer of 2019, new data released from the American Community Survey, and eventually other Census data products, can be found at their new data.census.gov website. When using these data, it’s worthwhile to note that the published figures are estimates. In general, the smaller the geography or more detailed the data, the larger the margin of error tends to be. In making comparisons in the changes from one year’s data the next, I’ve found the “Comparative Economic Characteristics” or one- or five-year “Comparison Estimates Profiles” useful as they show if a change in data between different time periods represents a statistically significant change in the estimated figures. For example, if an area’s poverty rate estimate drops from 13.2 percent to 12.8 percent, and the margin of error for the estimate is +/- 2.3 percent, then it would not be a statistically significant change. So it would not be a true claim to say “local poverty rates declined from 13.2 to 12.8 percent”.

For more information and to access all of the data from the 2018 American Community Survey, go to data.census.gov. I hope you find the new features and functionality of the new data tools an improvement over the Census Bureau’s American Factfinder tool. Feel free to contact me if you need any assistance or have data needs and you can’t find it on the Census website.

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