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Census estimates provide local snapshots in statistics

In tiny but tony Westover Hills -- a wealthy enclave surrounded by Fort Worth -- the median household income is more than $250,000 and the median value of homes tops $1 million.

That's enough to make folks jealous in Grapevine, where the median household income was $74,393, and the median home value was $203,300. Households making do on $39,508 in Everman can take a smidgen of solace in the fact that property taxes on an $80,700 home are downright affordable by comparison.

Those are just a few bits among a blizzard of more than 11 billion figures released Tuesday by the Census Bureau in its first-ever release of five-year estimates based on the American Community Survey.

It gives Americans a zoomed-in statistical snapshot on everything from incomes to commute times to vacant houses.

Easily searchable through the Census Bureau's website, the estimates allow for endless comparisons of your town or your ZIP code to anyplace in America. Whether you are looking for the biggest concentration of senior citizens, the most diverse neighborhood or the highest percentage of single women, it's in there.

Consider that in Arlington, where the median household income is $52,847, there are 69,887 foreign-born residents and 64,523 African-Americans. Among the city's 224,621 people over 25 years old, 28.2 percent had bachelor's degrees or higher.

Just up the road in Colleyville, where the median household income is $154,233, there are only 539 blacks in a population of 23,671. Of the people 25 or older, 63.8 percent had bachelor's degrees or higher.

The growing influx of Hispanics is readily reflected in Fort Worth, where 195,152 people, or 31.8 percent of the population, speak a language other than English at home.

If you're keeping up with the Joneses, the city's median household income is $48,015 and the median value of homes is $115,900.

All told, the new census numbers encompass more than 670,000 distinct geographies.

The five-year survey numbers replace the so-called long-form census questionnaire that had asked detailed questions every decade.

The numbers are based on a rolling annual sample survey mailed to about 3 million addresses between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2009. By pooling several years of responses, the survey generates statistical portraits of smaller places. New sets of five-year estimates will be released every year.

"The ACS represents the first time such a massive compilation of data estimates for small geographic areas is available," U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said in a news release. "These estimates deliver on our commitment to Congress to provide timely statistics on our communities and our economy, allowing for a more efficient government."

The numbers will be used by public officials as well as private groups such as chambers of commerce and businesses, to build estimates about where to build schools, roads, or say, a Starbucks next to a new subdivision.

The survey numbers aren't related to 2010 Census population counts that will be released Tuesday. Those 2010 numbers will be used to determine reapportionment of Congress and the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds.

Across North Texas, the new figures illustrate the wide differences and similarities of cities both large and small:

In growing suburban communities, workers spend slightly more time commuting to work than their colleagues in Fort Worth and Grapevine. In Mansfield, the estimated commute is 30.1 minutes and in Burleson it's 26.4 minutes compared to 25.3 minutes in Fort Worth and 22.9 minutes in Grapevine.

In Westover Hills (which only has 159 families), 109 families, or 66 percent, have incomes of $200,000 or more. Of Fort Worth's 159,400 families, 5,465, or 2.8 percent, make $200,000 or more.

The educational divide is just as sharp. In Fort Worth, 22 percent of people over 25 were high school dropouts compared with 15 percent in Arlington, 9 percent in Burleson, 7 percent in Grapevine and 2 percent in Southlake.

Online: www.census.gov

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981

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