Benton-Franklin Trends Blog – May 2023

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

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Trends Update List


1.2.3 Total Number of Food and Beverage Manufacturers & Their Share of the Labor Force
The economy of the greater Tri Cities is to a large degree based on an agricultural cornucopia. The sector includes both production and processing. For the most recent year, 2021, 120 firms in the two counties were engaged in food & beverage production. The number has steadily risen over the past two decades.


3.1.4 Share of Total Overall Income Earned by Household Income Level
Measured by cash income, the distribution of income in the two counties is slightly more equal than in Washington State and the U.S. Most recently, the upper quintile of households claimed 47% of all income in the two counties, while the lowest quintile of households claimed 4%. The ratio of these two, about 12, is smaller than in WA & the U.S.

3.2.9 Metro Area Regional Price Parity (Cost of Living Index)
Although no CPI exists for the Kennewick-Pasco-Richland metro area (MSA), the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis calculates an annual relative rate for each MSA, as a fraction of the costs of the average MSA. By this measure, the local MSA was just about average in 2021 – not cheaper nor more expensive.

3.5.1 Total and Share of Population Living In Poverty
One of the surprising outcomes of the pandemic and the federal governmental response to it has been a dramatic decline in the poverty rate. The greater Tri Cities is no exception. In 2021, the rate for the general population declined from 13% pre-pandemic (2019) to about 11%.          


4.1.2 Kindergartner Readiness
For over a decade, area schools have assessed the learning status of entering kindergarteners. Despite the pandemic, the share of area kindergarteners meeting standard on six domains of the assessment stayed about the same as in the fall of 2019. Over the past decade, the share of these students has risen sharply.


4.2.3 Total and Share of English Language Learner Students
With a large share of the local population who are first-generation immigrants, it is not surprising that a large share of the student population is classified as English Language Learners. The total among all local school districts peaked in SY 2017-18, but the most recent share is nearly the same, about one fifth.

4.2.6 Extended graduation rate of English Language Leaners
English Language Learners hardly enjoy a learning head start. Nonetheless, most catch up enough to graduate from high school. This indicator tracks the graduation rate of ELL students over a potential time spent in high school of five years.


5.1.4 Air Quality Days by Severity Level
Recent summers have brought smoky skies to the area from large forest fires in the Inland Pacific NW. In addition, the greater Tri Cities has traditionally contended with dust storms in summer and fall. This measure shows that “good” air quality days have recently been lower than a decade ago.


8.1.3 Total Violent Crimes & Violent Crimes per 1,000 Residents
Violent crime totals & rates climbed from pre-pandemic levels in 2020 and 2021. The rise was particularly pronounced in 2021, driven by aggravated assault. The violent crime rate in the two counties, however, remains far below those of Washington and the U.S.


9.1.2 Share of Commuters Using Alternate Modes of Transportation
Like other metros, the share of people “commuting to work” by working from home shot up during the pandemic. The rate here, however, was much lower than seen state-wide and nationally. This undoubtedly reflects the large share of industries classified as “essential” during the pandemic.




List Updated 05.25.2023