Image Map
TR

Archives

  • 0

Study shows social issues hurting male educational achievement in Rockford

Sometimes you run across data that’s instructive but not particularly helpful.

In June, the New York Times released a study of 260 million standardized tests from 2008 to 2014 at 1,800 of the country’s largest school districts that found the affluency of a school district vastly affected how boys in particular perform in reading and math.

Across the country, girls perform better on reading standardized tests. Researchers have found that parents tend to talk to female babies much more often, fostering better language skills and a greater interest in reading.

In math, boys outperform girls in standardized tests in about 75 percent of the districts nationwide. Researchers believe that some of that is the continuing perception that boys are better than girls in math.

What the times found is that in richer districts, the reading gap shrinks. In math, girls tend to outperform boys in poor districts. In affluent districts, boys outperform girls in math and the gap widens with income.

Researchers said the data shows that boys are affected at a much greater rate by socio-economic factors. Parents in richer districts hire tutors and enter sons in rocket leagues and math competitions, while girls are entered in ballet or ice skating. Families in richer district often tend to have more traditional family structures where the men are the main breadwinner and therefore sons are pushed harder in math because of the greater earning
potential.

“Both girls and boys benefit from being in more academic and more resource-rich environments,” Thomas DiPrete, a sociologist at Columbia who has studied gender and educational performance, told the Times. “It’s just that boys benefit more.”

Rockford, not surprisingly, was one of the 25 percent of districts where girls outperformed boys in math. The Times study found that Girls were 0.7 months ahead of boys in math and 9.4 months ahead in reading. The results in Chicago were very similar. Girls in CUSD outperformed boys in math by 0.3 months and were 9.4 months ahead in reading.

In affluent districts, it was a different story. In Naperville, boys were 2.5 months ahead in math, while girls were 9.1 months ahead in reading. Glenview was even more stark. There boys were 4.1 months ahead in math and girls just 6.6 months ahead in reading.

The data shows us what we already know. The families that make up the Rockford School District are less wealthy than the average district. How the district can combat the gap though is unclear.

District

Math Gap

Reading Gap

Three districts with largest math gaps

Glenview CCSD

Boys +4.1 months

Girls +6.6 months

Lake Zurich

Boys +3.4 months

Girls +7.5 months

Crystal Lake CCSD

Boys +3.2 months

Girls +6.8 months

Rockford-area largest school districts

Rockford

Girls +0.7 months

Girls +9.4 months

Harlem

Boys +2.0 months

Girls +7.6 months

Belvidere

Boys +1.6 months

Girls +7.7 months

Source: New York Times

 

 


  • 0

No improvement for Rockford on annual 24/7 Wall Street worst cities ranking

Rockford was ranked at No. 16 on an annual Worst Cities to Live List by 24/7 Wall Street.com, the second straight year it came in in that spot.

24/7 Wall Street uses a variety of data to compile the annual rankings. These include home value, poverty rate, percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree, crime rate, cost of living and air quality. Although you usually can find many of the same cities on this ranking each year, in many cases, the rankings vary widely.

Miami, Florida, was the No. 1 worst city to live in, according to 24/7 Wall St., in 2016. It wasn’t even in the top 50 last year and made it back on to the 2018 list at No. 42. Gary, Indiana, was ranked No. 10 worst city in 2016, then improved to No. 29, but fell back to No. 18 in 2018.

Rockford though, we’re consistent. Rockford was ranked the 18th worst city in 2016 then No. 16 in 2017 and 2018.

You usually can take these rankings with a grain of salt, but this one is instructive if only to see cities struggling with even bigger structural issues than Rockford. Youngstown, Ohio, was ranked as the 15th worst to live in in 2018 – one ahead of Rockford. The median home value in Youngstown is just $43,300 compared with Rockford’s $89,200. Youngstown’s poverty rate was 38 percent, while in Rockford it has fallen to 22.6 percent. And just 12 percent of Youngstown’s adult population has a bachelor’s degree compared with 22.6 percent in Rockford.

Another interesting thing to look at on the list are the number of large cities ranked among the worst to live. It’s no surprise that Detroit is No. 1 as that city continues to try to reinvent itself, but St. Louis, Missouri, came in at No. 3, Memphis, Tennessee, at No. 4 and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ranked 10th.

24/7 Wall St.com’s 20 Worst Cities to Live In

Rank City

Pop.

Home value

Poverty Rate

Pct. Bachelor’s

20 Compton, Calif.

97,537

$327,900

26.5%

8.1%

19 Little Rock, Ark.

198,546

$161,000

18.8%

40.2%

18 Gary, Indiana

74,186

$64,800

33.3%

11.0%

17 Pueblo, Colorado

110,295

$126,200

24.2%

18.7%

16 Rockford, Illinois

147,404

$89,200

22.6%

22.6%

15 Youngstown, Ohio

65,161

$43,300

38.0%

12.0%

14 San Bernardino, Calif.

216,242

$240,400

29.4%

9.1%

13 Florence-Graham, Calif.

63,390

$267,800

31.5%

4.4%

12 Homestead, Florida

68,000

$204,800

33.9%

17.2%

11 Hartford, Connecticut

123,287

$161,200

27.3%

16.8%

10 Milwaukee, Wisconsin

595,070

$114,700

26.7%

23.3%

9 Baltimore, Maryland

614,664

$153,500

21.9%

30.8%

8 Springfield, Missouri

167,313

$115,900

24.6%

25.7%

7 Albany, Georgia

74,904

$88,800

32.5%

20.1%

6 Wilmington, Delaware

71,455

$145,600

27.7%

25.6%

5 Cleveland, Ohio

385,810

$66,800

35.0%

16.3%

4 Memphis, Tennessee

652,752

$96,800

26.9%

25.6%

3 St. Louis, Missouri

311,404

$125,800

23.8%

34.1%

2 Flint, Michigan

97,379

$28,200

44.5%

10.5%

1 Detroit, Michigan

672,829

$43,500

35.7%

14.9%

Source: www.247wallst.com/special-report/2018/06/10/50-worst-cities-to-live-in-3/

 

 

 


  • 0

Rockford has ways to go in ‘American Dream’ ranking

Transform Rockford’s goal is to make the area one of the 25 best in the United States by 2025.

There’s no one set criteria to follow. The website Smartasset.com may have come as close as any so far. The website compared 257 cities in diversity, economic mobility, home ownership, home value and jobless rate for its “Living the American Dream” ranking.

“It is difficult to come up with any one definition for the American Dream that every American will agree on. But certainly for many people, it includes homeownership, economic opportunity and diverse communities. For these people, they need to live in a city where homes, and mortgages, are affordable and where it’s possible to climb the economic ladder. Below we look at this special combination of traits to rank the best places for living the American Dream.”

The data came from the 2016 1-year American Community Survey, the Equality of Opportunity Project and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The positive in the ranking is that Rockford was nowhere near the bottom. We came in 174th out of the 257 communities. The negative is that that’s a long way from top 25 and one of the top 10 is nearby. Aurora came in at No. 4.

“Best Cities for Living the American Dream”

Rank

City, State

Diversity
index

Economic
mobility

Percent
home owners

Home
value

Jobless
rate

Overall
score

1.

West Valley City, Utah

0.33

45.7

68.6%

$202,200

2.9%

100.0

2.

Odessa, Texas

0.36

50.8

60.6%

$143,100

3.3%

99.1

3.

Midland, Texas

0.36

49.2

58.8%

$196,100

2.4%

96.26

4.

Aurora, Illinois

0.24

49.0

62.9%

$176,200

4.5%

93.43

5.

Round Rock, Texas

0.29

43.5

59.1%

$233,200

3.1%

88.02

6.

Fort Worth, Texas

0.26

41.0

57.1%

$151,000

3.6%

84.41

7.

Aurora, Colorado

0.28

44.0

57.2%

$253,400

3.2%

84.15

8.

San Jose, California

0.24

45.6

56.9%

$802,000

2.9%

83.63

9.

Amarillo, Texas

0.38

40.4

60.0%

$126,800

3.0%

83.38

10.

Rochester, Minnesota

0.58

47.0

69.5%

$177,300

3.2%

82.99

174.

Rockford, Illinois

0.35

38.0

49.7%

$89,200

5.2%

45.74

Source: SmartAsset.com

 


  • 0

Rockford relatively good at handling money

Rockford’s wealth has been slipping when compared with the United States as a whole since the mid-1990s as manufacturing, the economic engine of the area, faced increasing global pressures.

One of Transform Rockford’s main goals is to reverse that trend and make the area one where wealth accumulates faster than the national rate.

One thing we can bank on, Rockfordians are pretty good at handling the money that they have. SmartAsset.com, a financial literacy site, released a ranking earlier this year looking at three key criteria – credit usage, late payment rate and savings rate.

Using those figures, SmartAsset.com ranked Rockford No. 65 out of 194 cities in its “Most Financially Savvy Rankings.”

Most Financially Savvy Cities

Rk.

City

Credit Use

Late Pay Rate

Savings Rate

1.

San Francisco, Calif.

25%

17%

15%

2.

Santa Maria, Calif.

27%

19%

14%

3.

Lincoln, Nebraska

24%

23%

8%

4.

Sioux Falls, S.D.

25%

21%

8%

5.

Salinas, Calif.

28%

23%

13%

6.

Eureka, Calif.

28%

26%

13%

7.

Rochester, Minn.

24%

21%

3%

8.

Hartford, Conn.

29%

32%

14%

9.

San Diego, Calif.

30%

26%

14%

10.

Mankato, Minn.

24%

23%

3%

 

National Averages

30%

35%

5%

65.

Rockford, Illinois

28%

42%

6%

194.

Albany, Georgia

36%

70%

2%

Source: SmartAsset.com

SmartAsset compiled the data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Experion.

 

 


  • 0

Rockford’s lack of community pride drags it down in well-being

The goal of Transform Rockford is to make Rockford one of the 25 best communities in the United States by 2025.

How exactly that will be measured has never been formally announced. There are a number of community rankings that use data published by groups such as Livability.com and U.S. News & World Report.

Numbers can only go so far when it comes to public perception. People living in the community have to believe they are living in a top 25 community. The results of an annual survey by Gallup shows how far we still have to go in changing our own perceptions of ourselves.

The Rockford metro area finished 178th out of 186 in the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, which was released in March. It marked the second straight year that Rockford finished 178th and the third consecutive year that Rockford finished in the bottom 15 of the rankings.

Gallup surveys more than 150,000 people each year, asking them about their satisfaction with their lives and where they live in five key subjects:

  • Purpose: Liking what you do and being motivated to achieve your goals.
  • Social: Having love in your live and supportive relationships.
  • Financial: Managing your life to reduce stress and increase security economically.
  • Physical: Having good health and enough energy on a daily basis.
  • Community: Feeling safe and having pride in your community and liking where you live.

To be included, at least 3,000 people from the metro area had to respond. The most interesting aspect of this year’s rankings is how much better people in Rockford feel they’re doing financially. In the 2017 report – which was based on surveys done in 2015 and 2016 – Rockford ranked 89th out of 189 metro areas in terms of their financial security. In 2018, with the report based on responses from 2016 and 2017, Rockford moved up to 38th out of 186 communities in financial well-being. It was easily Rockford’s best score of the five rankings.

Despite the fact that Rockford respondents were feeling increasingly good about their financial lives, Rockford finished in the bottom three for the third straight year when it came to the question about community. It was by far the worst score of the five subjects. Essentially, if Rockford felt about its community it would rank higher in this annual study.

Gallup-Sharecare State of American Well-Being 2017

Metro

Overall

Purpose

Social

Financial

Community

Physical

1. Naples, Florida

67.6

1

1

1

2

2

2. Barnstable Town, Mass.

66.4

10

2

2

1

5

3. Boulder, Colo.

65.3

36

51

44

9

1

4. Santa Cruz, Calif.

65.1

7

16

23

10

3

5. Charlottesville, Va.

65.0

52

15

5

14

7

178. Rockford, Ill.

59.5

67

142

38

185

164

182. Binghamton, N.Y.

58.9

184

127

95

184

147

183. Morgantown, N.C.

58.6

176

165

183

114

185

184. Biloxi, Miss.

58.6

167

164

186

131

184

185. Canton, Ohio

58.3

186

185

164

165

183

186. Fort Smith, Ark.

58.2

183

181

185

145

186


  • 0

Rockford finishes 10th year of housing contraction

The number of permits taken out in 2017 to demolish homes in the city of Rockford outpaced the number of permits taken out for new houses for the 10th straight year – and the gap widened.

According to the Rockford building department, there were a record 171 permits taken out to demolish homes in the city. It marked the fourth straight year that demolition permits topped 100 in Rockford.

On the other hand, builders took out just 29 new residential permits. That was down from 40 in 2016.

The city of Rockford hasn’t had more homes built than torn down since 2007, just as the Great Recession was destroying the economy nationwide, when 157 new homes were built versus 66 demolitions.

The problem here isn’t the rising number of demolitions. That’s a good thing. City officials back in the early 2000s realized that the city had an aging housing stock and planned to be more aggressive in clearing out crumbling houses.

Unfortunately, the recession caused thousands of residents to abandon properties, making a dire situation worse. City officials estimate there remain 5,400. While that number is alarming, it marks significant progress from 2010 when there 8,930 vacant houses, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

The demolitions have altered Rockford’s aging housing mix – slightly. The census bureau estimates housing age through its American Community Survey. Here’s a look at Rockford’s housing stock in 2010 versus 2016 – the most recent available estimates. In 2010, 66.7 percent of Rockford’s houses had been built before 1970. As of 2016, that had dropped to 63.3%.

Years built

2010 (Pct.)

2016 (Pct.)

Built before 1940

23.4%

21.4%

Built from 1940-1949

9.1%

9.6%

Built from 1950-1959

18.2%

16.9%

Built from 1960-1969

16.0%

15.4%

Built from 1970-1979

11.4%

14.5%

Built from 1980-1989

8.3%

7.6%

Built from 1990-1999

7.6%

8.2%

Built from 2000-2009

6.0%

6.2%

Built from 2010 on

0.0%

0.4%

The real problem remains the lack of demand for new houses in the city. As long as the number of homes being torn down outpaces the number of new houses being built, it will be impossible to tackle Rockford’s stubbornly high property tax rates. The taxing bodies in Winnebago County do have tax caps. That limits how much more they can ask from taxpayers. But they do continue to ask for more and if you have a shrinking number of homeowners then the burden on those homeowners will continue to rise.


  • 0

Jobs boom finally reaches Rockford

ROCKFORD – It has taken a decade, but employment in the Rock River Valley finally is nearing its pre-Great Recession levels.

 In January, according to preliminary estimates by theIllinois Department of Employment Security, 136,846 people were working in Winnebago County. That was a 9.2 precent increase from January 2017’s estimate of 125,376.

It also was the highest number of people working in January since 2008 when the local economy was feeling the first effects of the economic downturn that altered the lives and finances of millions of people.

Total employment in January (2006-2018)

Year

Illinois

% Ch.

Winnebago

% Ch.

Boone

% ch.

Ogle

% ch.

2006

6,036,555

131,335

23,254

24,865

2007

6,229,564

3.2%

137,709

4.9%

24,545

5.6%

26,017

4.6%

2008

6,271,190

0.7%

137,933

0.2%

24,743

0.8%

25,938

-0.3%

2009

5,966,550

-4.9%

124,502

-9.8%

22,324

-9.8%

24,136

-7.0%

2010

5,784,712

-3.1%

124,997

0.4%

22,857

2.4%

24,246

0.5%

2011

5,858,867

1.3%

127,563

2.1%

23,553

3.1%

23,994

-1.0%

2012

5,879,133

0.4%

127,569

0.0%

23,516

-0.2%

23,576

-1.7%

2013

5,882,715

0.1%

127,189

-0.3%

23,558

0.2%

22,931

-2.7%

2014

5,916,747

0.6%

126,910

-0.2%

23,528

-0.1%

22,783

-0.7%

2015

6,002,520

1.5%

128,905

1.6%

24,028

2.1%

23,770

4.3%

2016

6,077,639

1.3%

131,059

1.7%

24,384

1.5%

23,547

-0.9%

2017

6,066,522

-0.2%

125,376

-4.3%

23,398

-4.0%

23,106

-1.9%

2018

6,464,968

6.6%

136,846

9.2%

25,711

9.9%

24,657

6.7%

 

 


  • 0

Home price gains leveled off in 2017

ROCKFORD – Home prices in Winnebago County continued a 3 1/2-year winning streak in 2017, but the gains slowed significantly.

According to data from the Illinois Association of Realtors, the median home price in Winnebago County was up year-over-year in every quarter of 2017. That extended the streak of rising home prices to 14 straight quarters as the local real estate market continues its long climb back to the prices before the Great Recession.

In 2016, home prices soared by at least 12.1 percent and as much as 22.9 percent, outpacing the gains in the state every single quarter.

In 2017 though, home prices increased 8.3 percent over 2016 in the first quarter, but they were up just 0.4 percent from 2016 in the fourth quarter. More tellingly, Illinois home price gains topped Winnebago County in every quarter.

The area’s housing market has come a long way from the first quarter of 2014 when 673 homes sold at a median price of $65,000. In the fourth quarter, 997 homes sold for a median price of $104,900. Still, we’re a long ways away from fourth quarter 2006 when 1,616 homes sold for a median price of $129,700.


  • 0

Crime went right direction in 2017

Of all the pressing issues facing Rockford, the one that gets the most notice nationally is our crime rate.

Neighborhoodscout.com, cbsnews.com, Forbes, lawstreetmedia.com, 247wallstreet.com all have included Rockford in stories about the most dangerous cities just since 2014. The crime rate always is cited when Sperling’s Best Places and Liveability compile best and worst places to live.

So it was definitely positive news on February 1 when Rockford police and the city announced violet crime declined 5 percent in 2017.

The 2017 data:

Year

Group A offenses

Pct. Ch.

2016

18,167

2017

17,186

-5.4%

 

Year

Violent crimes

Pct. Ch.

2016

2,601

2017

2,480

-4.7%

 

Year

Homicides

Pct. Ch.

2016

26

2017

18

-30.8%

 

Year

Property crimes

Pct. Ch.

2016

5,761

2017

5,300

-8.0%

 

Year

Aggravated assault

Pct. Ch.

2016

1,782

2017

1,771

-0.6%

 

Year

Robberies

Pct. Ch.

2016

543

2017

421

-22.5%

 

Year

Auto thefts

Pct. Ch.

2016

488

2017

450

-7.8%

 

Year

Guns recovered

Pct. Ch.

2016

246

2017

242

-1.6%

 

 


  • 0

Livability list shows bias difficulty

Transform Rockford’s goal is an audacious one – to transform the city into one of the top 25 communities in the country by 2025.

That begs the question, who decides the top 25?

There are a number of organizations that have made a cottage industry out of rankings. Gallup is the oldest and most respected. The site www.247wallst.com runs a number of interesting lists. Sperling’s Best Places (www.bestplaces.net) is one of the sites favored by the local Region 1 Planning Council.

Then there’s Livability, which compiles and publishes data on just about anything you can think of, from Best College Towns, Best Places to Retire, Best Places for African Americans, etc. In January, Livability released its fifth annual 100 Best Places to Live list.

And if you look at the top 25, one thing becomes clear, Livability loves college towns. Twenty-three of the top 25 are home to major colleges or universities, ranging from No. 1, Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, to No. 25, Pullman, Washington, where Washington State University is located.

There are very good reasons cities with large universities are favored. By their very nature, colleges have very highly educated employees. That brings professionals to town and the culture that comes with it. Major colleges also attract students from all over the world, many of which end up staying nearby. Colleges also largely are recession-proof. There are fluctuations, but the economy doesn’t fluctuate as much as it does in manufacturing communities.

Rockford’s largest higher educational issue is Rockford University and there isn’t much potential to grow that much larger. There were plans years ago to grow Rock Valley College into a four-year university. Springfield is the most recent example, adding some four-year degree programs to its junior college to create the University of Illinois-Springfield.

There isn’t any momentum for that right now. RVC has been more intent on increasing its partnership with Northern Illinois University. Since we won’t be a major college town by 2025, you can look at the Livability top 25 for clues to what other attributes are typically associated with top 25 cities.

  • The arts: Ann Arbor was cited for having the Ann Arbor Arts Fair. Madison, Wisconsin, and Cambridge, Massachussetts, both were lauded for being top music destinations. Bellevue, Washington, has a highly-respected Bellevue Arts  Craft Fair.
  • Health: Davis, California, is such a bike-friendly town that it’s home to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. The Citizens’ Greener initiative of Evanston, Illinois, was pointed out, and Columbia, Missouri, has the award-winning MKT Nature and Fitness Trail.
  • Food: Madison, and Burlington, Vermont, were noted as being Foodie cities and Boulder, Colorado, has a high density of microbrews.

There won’t be a University of Illinois-Rock Valley by 2025, and we’ll never have the climate of San Luis Obispo, California, but we can make progress on the categories above.

What was Livability’s complete Top 25?

  1. Ann Arbor, Michigan, population 116,194
  2. Manhatten, Kansas, population 55,769
  3. Covallis, Oregon, population 54,981
  4. Iowa City, Iowa, population 71,832
  5. Charlottesville, Virginia, population 45,084
  6. Palo Alto, California, population 66,478
  7. Madison, Wisconsin, population 243,122
  8. Santa Cruz, California, population 62,752
  9. Rochester, Minnesota, population 110,275
  10. Bellevue, Washington, population 134,630
  11. Overland Park, Kansas, population 181,464
  12. Cambridge, Massachussetts, population 107,916
  13. Berkeley, California, population 117,384
  14. Fort Collins, Colorado, population 153,292
  15. Irvine, California, population 238,474
  16. Boulder, Colorado, population 103,919
  17. San Luis Opispo, California, population 46,337
  18. Davis, California, population 66,510
  19. Lincoln, Nebraska, population 269,726
  20. Evanston, Illinois, population 75,603
  21. Columbia, Missouri, population 115,391
  22. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, population 58,766
  23. Lawrence, Kansas, populaton 91,305
  24. Burlington, Vermont, population 42,570
  25. Pullman, Washington, population 31,502