Our 4-county region is vibrant in many ways, with a growing population, increasing diversity and a rebounding economy. Unemployment continues to fall, and average salaries are up. The region has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession, and job growth has been strong in most sectors of the economy. Our population of young adults – in some ways the life blood of an economy – is growing at a higher rate than the state and nation. Our rate of obesity – a major measure of community health – is lower than the state and nation. Crime continues to fall and remains lower than the state as a whole. Voter participation has been and continues to be higher than for the state and nation. Measures of environmental conservation have improved, with more residents recycling, and a steep decline in water usage.
Yet, for all our successes, parts of our population are falling behind. Despite robust job growth, poverty in our region rose substantially along with the state and nation: almost 1 in 6 adults and almost a quarter of children live in poverty. In addition, a significant disparity in many measures of economic well-being exists between DeSoto and the rest of the region. Indicators of financial and social need, such as food stamp and Medicaid usage, have worsened across the region since 2000. On educational measures, our test results are flat, though our graduation rate has continued to improve over the past decade.
What do we need to change? Where should we focus our energies and resources? Download the report for more data and analysis to inform your thinking and priorities.