Website offers a whole new view of statistics

If you were to describe Yates County, would you say it is:

A) Rural and remote smaller towns with older populations and large agricultural sectors?

B) Home to many retirees and aging baby boomers, and less diverse than the nation at large?

C) Midsize and small towns with economies fueled by hotels, stores and lower than average median household income by county or

D) A fast growing community with a rapidly diversifying population?

According to Patchwork Nation, a website where a wide variety of information is disected, digested, divided and divulged, Yates County is one of just a handful of New York Counties that is considered an “Emptying Nest” county, home to many retirees and aging baby boomer populations; less diverse than the nation at large.

While the vast majority of upstate New York is classified as Service Worker Centers (see definition C above), Yates, Wayne, Montgomery and Columbia are the only counties classified as Emptying Nests.

This confirms earlier research published in a 2008 book, “Rural Retirement Migration” (Springer Publishing) based on a nationwide study.

It also gives community leaders on all scales a picture of Yates County that they haven’t really had a chance to understand before.

Patchwork Nation is used to help news organizations and others better understand  and describe specific communities better. In fact, it was created during the 2008 election season when the technology was widely used by national media in reporting details about voting patterns.  

Data on the website is also used to define Congressional Districts, which paints a much different picture of the area, and, it seems, if taken to describe Yates County, might be inaccurate.
New York’s 29th District, which includes Yates County and stretches along the Southern Tier from Chemung through Cattaraugus County and north into Monroe County, is classified as Wired and Educated. Defined as “highly educated, youthful districts with single householders, employment in information industries. Ethnically diverse and secular,” it’s the only district in New York that fits that description. Most other New York districts are classified as The Shifting Middle (Middle income districts in established suburbs and midsized cities. Mixed ethnic populations and a growing Latino presence).

Neighboring District 26 is the only district north of the Catskills that is classified as Established Wealth (High income districts principally in larger cities and their suburbs. Many family-aged residents employed in white collar jobs.).

Dozens of variables tell a variety of stories about communities. One example is the “Hardship” Index, which illustrates a gradual improvement in conditions from January, 2010, when Yates County reached a “high” score of over 40 to the 13 of August, 2010. The Hardship Index is based on: gas price changes over a three month period; an estimate of the percentage of monthly household spending dedicated to fuel consumption and car maintenance; unemployment rate and home foreclosures per 1,000 homes.

Data includes information about:
• Labor and employment: The percent of homes earning over $200,000 annually in Yates, Steuben, Chemung, Ontario and Monroe Counties is classified as “few” while Schuyler, Seneca, Wayne and Livingston are classified as very few.
• Stimulus spending: Highway funds spent per capita in Yates, Schuyler and Chemung Counties is $0 while up to $150 was spent per capita in Steuben and Ontario Counties.
• Elections: Data about votes for presidential elections dating back to 1980 is included.
• Housing: Yates and Schuyler Counties’ foreclosure rates in November 2010 was considered very low, while much of upstate New York was considered low.
• Health: Yates County’s adult obesity rate in 2007 was between 15 and 20 percent, compared to most other upstate New York counties, which had rates between 25 and 30 percent.

Other data categories include hardship, military, population, religion, culture and more.
Patchwork Nation, a project of the Jefferson Institute, was launched during media coverage of the 2008 election. The project divides the country’s 3,141 counties into 12 community types based on demographic characteristics. An interactive map at the website breaks down national data and helps users see data charted and graphed by county, Congressional district or state.