Survey: Gaps growing in income, education
The report is a biannual survey of major economic and demographic trends affecting Boulder County. The foundation did not release a new report, but its staff updated some leading indicators at a presentation hosted Wednesday at Western Disposal Services Inc. in Boulder.
Boulder County residents are better educated than average Coloradans, and the unemployment rate of 6.5 percent is better. But less favorable trends continue to gain momentum, according to Morgan Rogers, the report's editor.
"We look pretty good," Rogers said. "We have some good numbers, but those bad numbers are growing."
For example, three in 10 children born in Boulder County are born into families with household incomes below the poverty line. The unemployment rate for high school dropouts is 17 percent.
The demographic shifts will have a political impact as well. Boulder County's 9 percent population growth during the past 10 years is heavily weighted toward the east part of the county. Meanwhile, Longmont's continued growth puts it on a course to someday becoming the county's largest city.
The county also will become more ethnically diverse, as 25 percent of children younger than age 18 are Latino. In the total population, only 13 percent of residents are Latino.
The most direct connection between the report's findings and the impact on the business community was drawn by St. Vrain Valley School District superintendent Don Haddad.
School quality and a well-educated workforce are well-known factors that major corporations consider when they think about relocating. Good schools also improve property values. But quality of education also has a significant impact on workers in the service industry, Haddad said.
The best thing members of the business community can do is to explain the connection between issues such as school finance and performance and the health of their businesses, he said.
"They're very supportive, and they understand the importance of education, but sometimes they don't recognize how deep it goes," Haddad said. "There's a direct correlation between successful schools and a successful economy.
"The single most important thing you can do is talk to every single person and connect the dots for them."
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