Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., now apparently going by Downtown Indy, on Tuesday, gave its version of how things are going in their namesake area. I have looked high and low through the Googler, and I have been unsuccessful at finding their report, much less track down the data they relied upon.
The US Census does not have 2013 data for areas as small as downtown and nothing for 2014; the most recent are estimates for 2012. So, where IDI got its numbers, I can't begin to guess.
According to Swiatek and Smith, IDI reports that downtown is humming along, with thousands of new residents whose household incomes average $90,000 a year, and who are employed in tech jobs.
The 2012 data from the US Census gives us a bit broader and more in depth look at the state of downtown Indy and the areas around it. I pulled down the numbers and used the mapping function on the Census website for 24 census tracks.
|The red line shows the generally accepted perimeter of "Downtown". The numbers shown are those of the Census Tracts.|
Since Smith effused about all the tax money generated by Downtown residents, I feel I must add that property taxes are also used to fund police, fire, and equally important, schools. Here is my best effort in sketching the various TIF districts in the Downtown area. The TIFs are drawn in blue, and the 2012 estimated population is mapped.
The claim of an average household income of $90,000 is a bit high, compared with the 2012 US Census estimates, but not too much higher.
Note that the three Downtown census tracks top the household income in the immediate area.
But, that is only one way to look at income. Another is a per capita view. This is mapped below.
Viewed on a per capita basis, the income levels of the three downtown census tracts drop to numbers 1, 3, and 6.
One cannot look at income without looking at poverty rates. The percentage of people living below the poverty line in each census tract is mapped next.
I find these poverty numbers stunning in how very high they are. Downtown clearly is not spared residents who live below the poverty line.
The data are generally worse when you look at the poverty rate among children. Only three of the 24 census tracts show lower poverty rates for children than the general population, and two of those are Downtown census tracts.
What of the claims of tech jobs? The Census has a few categories, but the one that seemed to fit the claims best included management, business, science, and art occupations. The percentage of the workforce engaged in these jobs are mapped below.
The percentage of those in the service industry are mapped next.
So Downtown residents do hold more management and fewer service types jobs than the surrounding areas, generally.
What of the unemployed? The unemployment rate is mapped here.
There are some shockingly high unemployment rates right against Downtown. The jobs being generated do not appear to be helping much beyond Downtown's perimeter.
While IDI likes to be a cheerleader for Downtown, the entire picture is somewhat different.
By some indicators, Downtown does appear to have a better financial footing for its resident households. However, unabated enthusiasm isn't warranted when one looks at per capita incomes, poverty, and unemployment.
One would hope that the City's goals are to move everyone forward, and not just those who become attracted to new residences springing up thanks to taxpayer funded inducements. To do that, we need a bigger view of Indianapolis than just the 2.6 square miles of Downtown.