Benton-Franklin Trends Blog – October 2023

In this blog, we showcase a few indicators recently updated.

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Trends Update List


0.1.1 Population – Total & Growth Rate
Estimates released in late June about the size of the greater Tri Cities population as of April 1 were 316,600 residents. This marks a gain of about 4,500 from 2022. The year-over-year growth rate was 1.5%, about equal to the past three years. Population increases in the two counties have outpaced the average rate in Washington every year since 2018.


1.2.3 Food & Beverage Manufacturers & Their Share of the Workforce
Manufacturing in the two counties is largely a food processing affair. The number of such firms in 2022 was the same as in 2021, at 120. The workforce in these firms is outsized here relative to the state:  4.8% of the workforce reports to food & beverage manufacturers versus 1.5% in Washington.


3.1.2 Median Household Income (MHI)
This is perhaps the best single measure tracking economic progress. The recently released estimate for 2022 for the two counties from Census is nearly $83,000. This represents a year-over-year gain of $4,500.  MHI in the greater Tri Cities has been greater than the national median since 2008, a unique result among the metro areas of Eastern Washington.

3.3.3 Net Jobs Created
2022 continued the strong job recovery in the two counties from the pandemic. Between 2019 and 2020, the area lost nearly 5,700 jobs. That deficit wasn’t filled by the end of 2021 but definitely by the end of 2022, when the local economy gained about 5,100 jobs.


4.1.2 Share of Entering Kindergarteners Demonstrating Readiness in the WaKids Standard
The WaKids assessment assigns entering public school kindergarteners a score of readiness to learn over six domains. In the 2022-23 school year, the share of students showing readiness in all six domains was 40%, about the same as the prior year. This share has largely been the same since the 2016-2017 school year.

4.2.5 Extended High School Graduation Rate
An extended rate allows a student one or more years to graduate. This measure calculates the graduation rate after 5 years for public high schools in the two counties. The two-county average for the most recently available school year, 2021-2022, was about 87%. This was about the same as the prior year. Both represent peaks and both show slightly better results than the state average.


6.2.1 Share of School Children Overweight or Obese
Obesity is linked to several disorders, including metabolic and cardiac conditions. Some obesity is genetically determined, some by lifestyle. The latter source is often based on habits formed in our youth. Measured against the start of this series (2006), the current share of young people in public schools showing weights in these two categories has climbed a total 6-8%, depending on grade level.


6.4.8 Number of Licensed Physicians & Rate/1,000 Residents
Good population health is determined by many factors. One is access to care. While high numbers of providers do not guarantee access (think of insurance status), a high ratio is a necessary condition for individual and population health. This definitely not the case in the two counties, where the ratio of physicians to residents is 50% lower than statewide.


7.3.1 Median Home Resale Price
Modest increases have characterized the first half of the year of housing prices of the greater Tri Cities. The median price of homes offered for resale over the April-June period was $429,000, a gain of $3,500 from the first quarter. In contrast, the median price for all resale homes sold in the 2nd quarter in Washington was about $655,000, a very large increase from the first quarter.


8.2.3 Weapons Incidents in Public Schools
The pandemic has apparently altered behavior besides learning in the public schools of Benton and Franklin Counties. In school years 2021-22 and 2022-23, weapon incidents were the highest in a decade and much higher than 2018-19. Especially worrisome is the growth of firearms-based incidents. Overall, however, the most recent year reveals a decline from the spike in 2021-22.





List Updated 10.06.2023