Unlocking the Power of Population Data

 

– 34th Annual Demography Summit-

 

The study of human populations creates a powerful and unique window into society.  It shows us our present and reveals glimpses of our future.  It allows leaders to better understand the issues their communities face and to prepare for the demands ahead.  For these reasons, local government leaders, economists, researchers and lovers of data convened at the Annual Demography Summit hosted by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).

 

Running 34 years strong, 2016’s Summit revealed Colorado’s most pressing population and economic trends, prefaced the 2020 US Census and detailed the impacts of retail marijuana.

 

Keynote speaker and executive director of DOLA Irving Halter impressed the vitality of applying data to governing. “It’s the way business needs to be done.  It’s the way government needs to be run,” Halter said.

 

Experts and representatives from National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) could not agree more.  “Leaders cannot make positive, effective change without good data to inform their decisions,” said NRC business development and marketing manager Angelica Wedell.  “As survey researchers, we believe in the power of population data.  We know it’s all about improving people’s lives, and that’s why we do what we do.”

Growing Population and Economic Trends

Presenters made Colorado’s rapid population growth clear.  DOLA’s Rob Kemp largely credited net migration for the state’s boom.  A 1.9{7d2d4cb14c544bbeb3cd4763dc2b1aa4e79f5bb51403ad6dac1e84ac9d980b0d} growth rate places Colorado as the 2nd fastest growing state.

 

The older adult population is also increasing. Colorado has the third fasting growing 65+ population, and one million people are projected to be aging out of the labor force by 2040.  We also know from US Census projections that 1 in 4 citizens will be age 65 and older by 2040.  DOLA’s Cindy DeGroen described the need for readiness and the impact of the state’s aging population in regards to increasing diversity, health outcomes, social and cultural norms and multi-generational housing.

NRC survey researchers found Colorado economic trends to be of particular interest.  “Having grown up in a rural community myself, I thought the Economic Resiliency Guide would be an awesome starting point for rural communities experiencing stagnation or recession to help carve their own paths to success,” Survey Specialist Christian Phillips commented.  Speaker Laura Blomquist Rodriguez, senior manager of strategy and analytics for the Colorado Office of Economic and International Trade, named quality of life as the number one driver of economic resiliency.

“I found Brian Lewandowski’s [Associate Director for Leeds School of Business] section very interesting. He spoke about how tourism directly influences job growth,” said NRC Survey Specialist Madeleine Winslow. “He emphasized how tourism can be unconventional and pronounce a city’s uniqueness. He highlighted the importance of using existing infrastructure – like a riverfront park, old railroad tracks, etc. I feel this topic is relatable to many of our clients. Not every jurisdiction has a ski resort like Vail, but there are still plenty of ways municipalities can bring attention to their city and benefit from tourism.”

Upcoming Changes to US Census

NRC also noted changes to the upcoming US Census.  “We are hoping that the Internet will be the number one mode for people to take the Census,” said Regional Director for the US Census Bureau, Cathy Lacy.  “To motivate people to respond, we want to make it as easy as possible.”

 

For 2020, the US Census Bureau aims to maintain quality, reduce costs and improve efficiency.  The bureau is looking to local governments to help them in achieving those goals.  The 2020 Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) calls for local governments to review addresses used in conducting the Decennial Census.  “We depend on local governments to help us keep that information accurate,” said Jim Castagneri, Geographer for the US Census Bureau.  Changes to traditional methods of conducting the Decennial Census will lower burden, number staff and offices, and are projected to save over five billion dollars.

 

While data shared at the 2016 Annual Demography Summit centered around our home state of Colorado, many of the issues and case studies presented are relevant to local leaders anywhere.  More demography information can be found on the DOLA Colorado Official State Web Portal.

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National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) is a leading full-service survey research and evaluation firm focusing on the information requirements of the public sector, including local governments, health care providers, foundations and non-profit organizations.  Visit our home on the Web at www.n-r-c.com.  Check out our media page for more news, tips and human-interest stories from NRC.

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