Benton-Franklin Trends Blog

In this blog, we showcase a few of the indicators that have been recently updated.

We publish the blog semi-annually. Don’t miss and update – subscribe today!

Trends Update List


Total Foreign-Born Population

The U.S. Census estimated the number of foreign-born in Benton and Franklin Counties to be slightly more than 46,000 in 2022. This matches the 2019 peak and represents nearly 15% of the two-county population. The share of the foreign-born here, however, who are U.S. citizens is substantially lower than the shares in the U.S. and WA, but the local share has risen over time. 

If you want to simplify the graph, click on the legend components you’d like to hide 


Total Market Value of Agricultural Products Sold & Average Sales per Farm

The USDA Census of Agriculture occurs every 5 years and last took place in 2022. For that year, the USDA estimated that the value of agricultural goods sold (at the farmgate) in Benton and Franklin Counties was over $2.2 billion. This implies an average per farm of approximately $1.1 million, nearly three times the size of the Washington state average.

Average Farm Size (in Acres)

The USDA Census of Agriculture estimated the average size farm in the two counties in 2022 to be about 575 acres. This is a little larger than the values over the prior two decades, but smaller than in Walla Walla County, where it stood over 1,000 acres. The relatively small size of local farms is likely related to the high percentage (nearly 55%) of the two-county agricultural land that is irrigated. 


Local Government Expenditures on Parks & Recreation: per Capita & per $1,000 Total Personal Income (TPI)

Budgets and therefore expenditures reveal public choices, made directly or more typically though elected officials. On a per capita basis, parks & recreation expenditures in all jurisdictions in the two counties were about $98 in 2022. This is substantially lower than the average of all Washington state of $162. The spending represents little change since 2019. 

If you want to simplify the graph, click on the legend components you’d like to hide. 


Quarterly Total Number of Residential Building Permits & Number per 1,000 Residents

Residential building permits offer a window into near-term construction. For the first quarter of this year, they numbered 576 in the two counties. That is up from 2023 but lower than 2022. On a per capita basis, residential building permit activity has outpaced that of the state over the past five quarters. 

If you want to simplify the graph, click on the legend components you’d like to hide. 


Public High School On-Time Graduation Rate

High school graduation rates give a score card to school districts of their success in getting students across an important finishing line. A diploma obviously means a brighter future to a graduate than to one who drops out. For the most recent school year, 2022-2023, the overall, four-year public-school rate was about 80%. This represents a slight decline from the prior three years and a score about four percentage points below the Washington average. 


Overall Water Quality Index: Columbia, Snake & Yakima Rivers

The Washington Department of Ecology tracks surface water quality on a continual basis for many rivers and streams. Quality covers temperature, turbidity, phosphorous and other components, and is expressed as an index with a maximum value of 100. For the most recent year of available data, 2022, water quality remained high in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. For the Yakima, however, the water quality value was 51, indicating “concern” and considerably lower than the readings from two decades ago. 

Salmon Counts at Ice Harbor Dam

A fundamental measure of success of efforts by all agencies and tribes working to restore salmon runs is the annual count through fish ladders. This dam on the lower Snake River is equipped with two ladders. In 2023, the total count of the four species tracked was a bit below 195,000. This marks an improvement in the past few years, but a steep decline from the counts of a decade or two ago. 

If you want to simplify the graph, click on the legend components you’d like to hide. 


Life Expectancy at Birth

How we long a newborn is expected to live under current mortality conditions is an apex indicator of public health. The data for the two counties for 2022, the most recent available year, reveals a continued decline from the peak reached in 2019. Then, life expectancy stood at 81.1 years; now it is at 78.3 years. There is nothing in the recent historical records that approximate this rapid a decline. 


Total and Share of Renters Spending 50% or More of Their Household Income for Shelter Costs

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development has set a threshold of housing expenditures of 30% of household income as the limit to affordability. Any expenditure shares above 30% represents a “burdened” household. Any shares above 50% represents a “severely burdened” household. For 2022, Census estimated that nearly 7,200 Tri Cities renters fell into the latter category. That represented a share of nearly 22%, one not observed here since 2014. 


List Updated 06.21.2024


The new Whitman County Trends website has just launched, with nearly 100 indicators to track areas such as education, housing, public health and safety, and economic vitality. The website, like its counterpart here and for other Washington counties, has been designed to present data readily accessible to people in local communities. Trends sites are used by schools, businesses, non-profit...


Graduating Interns


In this issue, we say goodbye to four graduating interns. They have accomplished so much over the past year at the institute. Left to right, they are:  Laura Velasquez-Neal (mechanical engineering), Jessica Phan (Visual Communications Design), Angelica Cortes (Data Analytics) and Miranda Carmona (Economics). Angelica and Miranda have each received the Frances Houston medal, awarded to 20 graduating seniors for excellence in academics. All four will do well wherever they go.