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INTRODUCING: The 2021 District Data Dashboard

By Josh Crawford, Erinn Broadus, and Austin Dillon

In 2019, Pegasus Institute began producing the District Data Sheets. These sheets, broken down into state legislative districts, took a county-level look at five data points that Kentucky must improve in order to reach her full potential. Those five data points were (1) average weekly wages, (2) labor force participation rate, (3) baccalaureate attainment rate, (4) percentage of the population on Medicaid, and (5) jail crowding.

In 2020, we turned those sheets into an interactive dashboard on our website and added a sixth category: full-time, local law enforcement officers per 1,000 residents.

This year, we launch the 2021 dashboard with those same six data points as well as a second dashboard that shows year over year changes in these figures. Moving forward, both dashboards will be updated annually to provide a better idea of how Kentucky is progressing.

The elephant in the room for the 2020 data is COVID-19 and associated lockdowns. Percentage of the population on Medicaid and labor force participation were both negatively impacted: more people are on Medicaid, and labor force participation is down state-wide. Jail crowding was positively impacted by policy changes during the pandemic: jails are now below 100% capacity state-wide. Average weekly wages are up over 2019. Baccalaureate attainment is unchanged – as the baccalaureate attainment numbers are updated every few years, not annually. An important note on full-time, local law enforcement is below.

Full-Time, Local Law Enforcement per 1,000 Residents:

Both the 2020 and the 2019 data for full-time law enforcement officers per 1,000 residents were calculated by compiling data from the Department of Criminal Justice Training. The 2019 data relied on the 2018 Comprehensive Survey from the Department of Criminal Justice Training to compile officer data from municipal police departments, county police departments, sheriff’s offices, airport police departments, school districts, and universities.

The 2020 data was calculated using raw data obtained through an open data request. The raw data grouped total full-time, sworn law enforcement personnel by employing agency, and totals reflect the number of full-time, sworn personnel employed by municipal agencies, county police departments, school districts, county sheriff’s offices, university police forces, and local agencies. It does not include airport police forces or state agencies. This methodology will be used to calculate this metric in the future.

Differences in the 2019 data and the 2020 data may be also attributable to a higher representation of employing agencies in the raw data than was reflected in the 2018 Comprehensive Survey. As such, many counties show increases in this category that are the result of a more comprehensive assessment, not an actual increase in officers per 1,000 residents.

A notable exception to this is Jefferson County. Despite the more comprehensive 2020 data, Jefferson County still saw a reduction of 0.2 officers per 1,000 residents from 2019 to 2020.

Labor Force Participation Rate:

The 2019 labor force data used the annual averages from BLS. The dataset includes the labor force, the employed population, unemployed population, and the unemployment rate. The labor force participation rate is calculated by dividing the civilian labor force by the population (16+) for all counties. The state-wide rate is from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank because it takes into account the civilian noninstitutionalized populations instead of the whole civilian population 16+. Data for noninstitutionalized populations does not exist for every county in Kentucky, so the calculations are an appropriate approximation for the county rates, but the state rate was not calculated, as it was available from the St. Louis Fed.

The labor force participation rate decreased marginally from 2019 to 2020, from 59.3% in 2019 to 57.5% in 2020 (down 1.8 percentage points). Most counties saw decreases in labor force participation. Only a handful of counties saw any increase, and these increases were less than a percentage point.

Percentage of the Population on Medicaid:

Cabinet for Health and Family Services provides the total count of people who receive Medicaid by county. The Medicaid percentage is calculated by taking the number those receiving Medicaid as a percentage of the population of each county (Census). The 2019 figures were calculated using December 2019 data; November 2020 data was used for the 2020 figures.

The percentage of the population on Medicaid increased by 6 percentage points, from 29.4% in 2019 to 35.2% in 2020. Every county saw an increase in the percentage of its population on Medicaid this year. Leslie County had the highest increase between 2019 and 2020—26 percentage points—from 51% in 2019 to 77.5% in 2020. Perry County and Breathitt County saw the second highest increase of 21 percentage point during the year. Breathitt County’s Medicaid percentage grew from 60% in 2019 to 80.6% in 2020; Perry County increased from 57.6% to 78.2% in 2020.

Jail Crowding:

County jail crowding is calculated by dividing the reported jail population in a county by the total jail beds in each county. The 2019 figures used the weekly count report from the Department of Corrections for June 27th, 2019. The 2020 figures used the weekly report for December 3rd, 2020. Kentucky’s jails saw the percentage of beds filled shrink by 33 percentage points from 123% in 2019 to 90% in 2020. Only two counties saw increases in their jail crowding rate: Knox County and Carroll County. Knox County opened a new jail in 2020, which helps to explain the increase. Carroll County, however, saw an increase of 44 percentage points, from 161% in 2019 to 205% in 2020.

Average Weekly Wages:

Data for average weekly wages was taken from the Kentucky Center for Statistics for 2019 and from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the first quarter of 2020. Average weekly wages increased by $28.64 from $914 in 2019 to $943 in the first quarter of 2020. Trimble County saw the highest increase of $420.67 over the year—from $680.33 to $1,101 in 2020. Gallatin County (+$414.9), Owen County (+$240.63), and Union County (+$159.4) also had notable increases in average weekly wages.

To view the 2021 District Data Dashboard click HERE

To view the year over year data click HERE

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