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Census shows graduation rates up slightly

Coloradans have lower real incomes, a higher percent are living in poverty and fewer own their own homes than the year before the recession began in 2007, according to an I-News analysis of new census figures released Wednesday night.

The analysis also found glimmers of good news: high school and college graduation rates among adults edged up, and the percent of Coloradans without health insurance is slowly declining.

The latest economic data came from the 2011 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau for every state and for cities and counties with 65,000 or more in population.

The survey found that median household incomes in the state had declined by about 7.5 percent to $55,387 between 2007 and 2011 when adjusted for inflation.

Census findings – education

  • In 2011, the survey found only two counties with 65,000 or more residents where more than half the adults aged 25 and over held college degrees – Boulder and Douglas.
  • Statewide in 2011, the survey found 37 percent of adults aged 25 and over held college degrees. In Denver, the figure was 43 percent.
  • Among cities with 65,000 or more residents, the survey found two where fewer than a quarter of the adults aged 25 and over held college degrees – Greeley and Pueblo.

Census findings – poverty

  • In 2011, the two counties with 65,000 or more residents reporting the highest child poverty rates were Denver and Pueblo.
  • That year, the two counties reporting the lowest child poverty rates were Boulder and Douglas.
  • Only two municipalities reported child poverty rates in the single digits in 2011 – Douglas County and Highlands Ranch, located within Dougco.

Census findings – income

  • In 2011, Highlands Ranch reported the highest median household income at more than $100,000 while Pueblo City reported the lowest at under $33,000.

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During the same time, the percent of the state’s residents living below the poverty level rose from 12 percent to 13.5 percent and the percent of children in poverty increased from 16.3 to 17.9.

State Demographer Elizabeth Garner said the figures reflect the fact that employment is not expected to return to 2007 levels until 2014 or 2015.

“We’re several hundred thousand more people than we were in 2007 and there are actually fewer jobs,” Garner said.

Home ownership rates continued to decline with 64.4 percent of Coloradoans owning their own homes last year compared to almost 69 percent in 2007, the year before the recession began.

Those same economic indicators showed little change between 2010 and 2011.

The percent of Coloradans without health insurance has declined over the past three years. The Census Bureau did not start including questions on health insurance in the survey until 2008.

Last year, 15.1 percent of the state’s residents said they were uninsured compared to 16.7 percent in 2008.

The drop among children was more dramatic, failing from 13.8 percent uninsured in 2008 to 9.4 percent in 2011.

Garners said part of the drop reflects more people qualifying for Medicaid.

“You get yourself so poor, you actually qualify for Medicaid,” she said.

In addition, more older children are now being covered under their parents’ policies, she said, because of health care reform.

High school and college degrees also have gone up slightly since 2007. The percent of adults 25 years and over with high school degrees rose from 88.9 to 90.2 and the percent with college degrees went from 35 to 36.7.

Garner said that also reflects a weak job market.

“If there is a silver lining, it’s if people are unable to get a job, they are going back to school or deciding to stay in school,” she said.

“If there is a silver lining, it’s if people are unable to get a job, they are going back to school or deciding to stay in school.”
– Demographer Elizabeth GarnerThe census data also looked at martial status for Coloradans 15 years and older and found a continuing trend toward fewer married residents and more unmarried residents.

Married Coloradans now make up barely over half of state residents – 50.9 percent compared to 52 percent in 2007. Coloradans who reported they have never married now comprise 30.9 percent of those 15 years and older, up from 29.4 percent in 2007.

Census data on commuting patterns found little changes over the four years between 2007 and 2011. About 75 percent of Coloradans still drive alone to work, 10 percent carpool and 3 percent take public transportation.

  • In partnership: The I-News Network is a nonprofit newsroom collaborating with Colorado news organizations to cover important issues. Learn more.

U.S. Census data on education, poverty and median household income

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