Interesting Census Tidbits

The 2009 American Community Survey Profiles were released last week.  I compared the recent numbers with the recent past.

Here’s a summary:

Lexington is getting more:  dense, young, educated, poor, dependent on the health care and education industrial complex, diverse, antiquated infrastructurally, and time-inefficient.

Data at glance

2009 Estimated Population:  297,000

Occupied Households:  121,000


Lexington is getting denser. Persons per household has increased 11% since 2005 from 2.2 to 2.45 pph.  Fewer new residences but more people in the city.  This is no surprise, given the depression.  Fewer young people are moving out of their parent’s houses, more are moving back in, and more people are sharing living quarters generally.

Media Age:

2009:  33.1          2007:  35             2005:  35.1

Employment by occupation: Our economy is becoming less diverse.

Health care and education

2009:  30% of employment

2007:  28% of employment

2005:  26% of employment

2003:  19% of employment

(How do we pay for health care and education?  Insurance and loans.  Is that a sustainable base on which to build an economy?  What happens when people can’t afford insurance or no one takes out loans?)


2009: 11% of employment

2007:  11% of employment

2005:  9% of employment

Professional, Scientific, Management

2009: 10% of employment

2007:  10% of employment

2005:  10% of employment


We’re less rooted as a city:  In 2009, 73% of people one year old lived in the same residence one year previously. In 2005, 78% had lived in the same place a year before.

More citizens are coming back from abroad to live here. In 2009, there was a nearly 50% increase in the number of people who had lived abroad in the year previously from 2007.

Foreign born persons have increased 42% since 2005. Approximately 24,000 people in Fayette County were born out of the country.


Could these 2009 increases mark the beginning of a reversal of brain drain, as more young people stay here?

High School

2009: 87.5%

2007:  87%

2005:  87%


2009: 40.2%

2007:  38.4%

2005:  39.5%

Median Household Income

Our incomes are losing pace with inflation. This is a national trend which means less discretionary income and thus less consumption – bad news for a consumer-based economy.

2009: $46,314

2007:  $46,296

2005:  $42,442

Median Household income increase 05-09:  9.1%

Consumer Price Index increase 05-09: 13.2%

(And the CPI doesn’t count food or energy, which have increased greatly – Over the last 12 months, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.9 percent, though the shelter component posted a 0.7 percent decline. The food index increased at a similar rate, rising 1.0 percent, with grocery store food prices up 0.8 percent. The energy index posted a somewhat larger increase, rising 3.8 percent with gasoline up 4.4 percent.)


In 2009, it was estimated that there were 53,460 people in Fayette County living in poverty.  If these impoverished citizens of Lexington were a city in their own right, they’d constitute the 5th largest city in Kentucky, larger than Covington and about the same as Owensboro and Bowling Green.  They would comprise the 17 largest county in Kentucky.  This must be great strain on our local social service systems.


All persons:                        18%

Children under 18:            20%

Families:                             12%

Female head of house:    38% in poverty


All persons:                        16%

Children under 18:            21%

Families:                             11%

Female head of house:    33%


All persons:                        15%

Children under 18:            17%

Families:                             10%

Female head of house:    31%


81% of workers in Fayette County commute by private automobile alone. The average Fayette Countian spends 20 minutes getting to work by car.   These 40 minutes per day add up to 10,000 minutes a year, or 167 hours, or 7 days; seven full days out of our lives every year doing nothing but getting back and forth to work.  Time spent not working, not with families, not helping the community, not even consuming.

One reason for increasing traffic in Lexington is the continued increase in 3 car households.

2009: 16% of all households had 3 or more cars

2007:  15%

2005:  14%

8% of Lexingtonians don’t have access to a car.


We have an aging infrastructure. 67% of all the houses in Fayette County were built before 1990. This is a good guide as to the age of the streets, sewer lines, sidewalks – all the things that government – and thus us as taxpayers – are responsible for maintain.

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3 responses to “Interesting Census Tidbits

  1. Aaron German

    Great food for thought. And I need to think more about these figures. But I have an off-the-cuff reaction to your comments about the meds and eds jobs.

    While I’ll have to agree that basing an economy on loans and insurance doesn’t seem like a good idea, I do think that we ought to have people working in education and in the medical field. If I understood your remarks, you think that it is problematic that 30% of Lexington’s jobs are in these two areas. But I wonder what that number ought to be. Maybe we need 30% of workers to work in these fields in order to get the job done right. Maybe even more.

    Of course, it may be that we do not need this many people in these kinds of jobs. I have no idea.

    All of this, to pose two questions:
    1) What would be an ideal percentage of local jobs in the meds and eds areas?

    2) Assuming you are right that paying for eds and meds with loans and insurance isn’t the way to go (and I think you are right), then how best to pay for these things?

    I’ve got not answers. I’m just the question guy.

    • thanks Aaron

      I’m not sure what the right ratio is for eds and meds, but my gut tells me that when any city relies on too much on any industry, its vulnerable.

      Right now we are at 1/3 of our entire workforce in eds and meds. And for the short term, those are likely to be the only two job generating industries so we are bound to see a continued increase in their share of local employment.

      The problem is that makes us vulnberable in the low energy economy we are moving into. Low energy means little, if any, economic growth. Low growth will hamper job creation and depress incomes, making health care and education even that much more unaffordable to more people. Futher, low growth and the massvie deleveraging that is underway wil mean less loans for education over time. Yet costs in both will continue to spiral upward. Thus, the limits to the eds and meds industrial complex are easy to see.

      How will we pay for those in the future? Simple, we will consume less of each, and the price will fall accordingly. We eat health care like it was candy. Really expensive, complex candy. We also think that every single person should have a college degree in something. That’s nothing but over consumption. We will have to learn to live healthier lives, value alternative medicine, and accept that we can’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars treating everything. Too, we will again value skils that are vital, but that aren’t taught in conventional university systems any more. People should be educated and healthy, and they will be. The results will just be found outside the eds and meds industrial complex.

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