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Economic data stands out when Rockford compared with top cities

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Economic data stands out when Rockford compared with top cities


Transform Rockford’s Jacob Wilson sent Reality Check a link to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s site, Peer Cities Indentification Tool.

The Chicago Fed compiled data on 300 cities and identified cities struggling with the same issues. The tool is meant to help those making policy identify cities that are working on similar problems.

Rockford’s peer cities?

Equity (racial and socioeconomic composition): Gadsden, Alabama; Hammond, Ind.; Kansas City, Kan.; Lancaster, Penn.; Lorain, Ohio; Racine, Wis.; Springfield, Mass.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Toledo, Ohio and Waterbury, Conn.

Resilience (economic change and labor market conditions): High Point, N.C.; Jackson, Mich.; Lincoln Park, Mich.; Roseville, Mich.; Warren, Mich. and York, Penn.

Outlook (demographic and economic future): Allentown, Penn.; Kansas City, Kan.; Kenosha, Wis.; Odessa, Texas; Ogden, Utah; Springfield, Mass.; Syracuse, N.Y. and Waco, Texas.

Housing (affordability, tenure and age of housing stock): Akron, Ohio; Erie, Penn.; Evansville, Ind.; Kansas City, Kan.; Lansing, Mich.; Loraine, Ohio; Racine, Wis.; South Bend, Ind.; Springfield, Ohio; St. Petersburg, Fla. and Toledo, Ohio.

It’s no surprise that Rockford’s peers include many familiar Midwestern cities from Kansas City, Kansas and Racine, Wis. to Toledo, Ohio. Transform Rockford’s goal though is eventually not to be compared with cities that are struggling and instead be compared with cities that are considered among the best to live in the United States.

Realit Check compared the data compiled by the Chicago Fed with cities among the other 300 that landed either in the top 25 of this year’s’s top medium-sized cities to live list or the top 25 of the Gallup-Healthways 2017 Well-Being Rankings.

There were 12 cities in the Chicago Fed data that landed on either of those lists:

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan, #3 on the Livability top places to live list.
  • Des Moines, Iowa, #23 on the Gallup-Healthways well-being rankings.
  • Durham, North Carolina, #21 on the Gallup-Healthways rankings.
  • El Paso, Texas, #16 on the Gallup-Healthways rankings.
  • Lynchburg, Virginia, #8 on the Gallup-Healthways rankings.
  • Madison, Wis., #8 on the Livability list.
  • Newton, Massachussetts, #12 on the Livability list.
  • Palo Alto, Califorinia, #7 on the Livability list.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, #20 on the Livability list.
  • San Antonio, Texas, #24 on the Gallup-Healthways rankings.
  • San Diego, California, #22 on the Gallup-Healthways rankings.
  • Santa Barbara, California, #12 on the Gallup Healthways rankings.

The Chicago Fed researchers spent a lot of time collecting segregation figures and economic inequality data, but when looking at the data of Rockford the striking difference between us and the 12 cities on the Livability and Gallup-Healthways rankings was educational and economic.

Poverty Rate (as of 2015):
Newton, Massachussetts, 3.5 percent
Palo Alto, California, 4.24 percent
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 7.19 percent
Madison, Wisconsin, 8.72 percent
Santa Barbara, California, 8.91 percent
San Diego, California, 10.75 percent
Durham, North Carolina, 13.68 percent
Des Moines, Iowa, 15.19 percent
San Antonio, Texas, 15.89 percent
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 16.11 percent
El Paso, Texas, 17.9 percent
Lynchburg, Virginia, 18.47 percent
Rockford, Illinois, 20.44 percent

Change in poverty rate (2010-2015):
El Paso, Texas, -0.62 percentage points (poverty rate went down)
San Diego, California, 0.54
Palo Alto, California, 0.62
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1.05
Newton, Massachussetts, 1.23
Santa Barbara, California, 1.85
San Antonio, Texas, 1.93
Durham, North Carolina, 2.30
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2.53
Madison, Wisconsin, 3.97
Lynchburg, Virginia, 4.7
Des Moines, Iowa, 7.11
Rockford, Illinois, 10.46

Percent with a bachelor’s degree:
Palo Alto, California, 79.89 percent
Newton, Massachussetts, 76.57 percent
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 71.91 percent
Madison, Wisconsin, 55.06 percent
Durham, North Carolina, 47.43 percent
Santa Barbara, California, 45.08 percent
San Diego, California, 42.98 percent
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 38.29 percent
Lynchburg, Virginia, 33.07 percent
Des Moines, Iowa, 25.09 percent
San Antonio, Texas, 25.01 percent
El Paso, Texas, 23.24 percent
Rockford, Illinois, 20.91 percent

Unemployment rate:
Newton, Massachussetts, 3.53 percent
Palo Alto, California, 4.07 percent
Madison, Wisconsin, 4.72 percent
Santa Barbara, California, 5.25 percent
Durham, North Carolina, 5.87 percent
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 5.91 percent
San Antonio, Texas, 6.63 percent
El Paso, Texas, 6.87 percent
Des Mointes, Iowa, 6.93 percent
Lynchburg, Virginia, 6.93 percent
San Diego, California, 7.2 percent
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 7.52 percent
Rockford, Illinois, 12.38 percent

Percent of labor in manufacturing:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 5.46 percent
Santa Barbara, California, 5.49 percent
San Antonio, Texas, 5.81 percent
Newton, Massachussetts, 6.44 percent
Durham, North Carolina, 6.72 percent
El Paso, Texas, 6.92 percent
Ann Arbor, Michigan, 7.59 percent
San Diego, California, 9.09 percent
Lynchburg, Virginia, 9.39 percent
Des Moines, Iowa, 9.97 percent
Palo Alto, California, 13.07 percent
Rockford, Illinois, 21.13 percent

Median family income (in constant 2015 dollars):
Palo Alto, California, $175,336
Newton, Massachussetts, $161,101
Ann Arbor, Michigan, $96,157
Santa Barbara, California, $82,061
Madison, Wisconsin, $78,580
San Diego, California, $78,321
Durham, North Carolina, $64,714
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, $56,370
Des Moines, Iowa, $56,196
San Antonio, Texas, $54,005
Lynchburg, Virginia, $51,128
El Paso, Texas, $48,027
Rockford, Illinois, $47,653

Percent change in real median family income (2000-2015):
Newton, Massachussetts, +11.17 percent
Palo Alto, California, +8.35 percent
San Diego, California, +7.24 percent
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, +5.57 percent
Santa Barbara, California, +3.01 percent
El Paso, Texas, -1.52 percent
Ann Arbor, Michigan, -2.01 percent
Madison, Wisconsin, -4.59 percent
San Antonio, Texas, -5.07 percent
Durham, North Carolina, -8.1 percent
Lynchburg, Virginia, -9.05 percent
Des Moines, Iowa, -12.37 percent
Rockford, Illinois, -23.85 percent

There are lots of areas Rockford needs to improve upon, infrastructure, crime, property taxes among those, but when it comes to becoming one of the top 25 places to live in the United States, in the end it seems to always come back to being able to make a good living.

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