Oregon’s economy was hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008. Since then the economy has experienced job growth, with every major sector of the economy adding jobs as of early 2014 according to the Oregon Blue Book. With modest gains in recent years, the poverty rate for all families in Oregon and those families with children under the age of 5 has remained steady over the years of 2010 to 2013, the latest year for which we have data from the US Census Bureau.

Oregon 2010 2013 2010-2013 % Point Change
Poverty Rate for All Families 11.00% 11.30% 0.30%
Poverty Rate for Families with Children Under the Age of 5 21.00% 21.20% 0.20%
1 – Year American Community Survey; US Census Bureau    

In the decades prior to the recession Oregon saw the transition of it’s economy from resource sectors such as timber, fishing and agriculture to the high tech sector. This shift concentrated growth in the counties in and around the Portland Metro Area. While the state’s economy as a whole looks good, the story can quickly change at a regional level, where the tendency is for rural and less populous counties to exhibit slower growth or even spikes in their family poverty rates.

The state of Oregon has 21 Head Start Program service areas. Head Start is a federally funded early childhood education program that serves low income children ages 3 and 4. These service areas vary in geographic size, from a collection of Zip Codes in an urban area such as Portland, to entire Counties grouped together such as Union and Baker Counties. Looking at each of these service areas individually (all of which can be found here) can give us a better idea of where in the state the economy is leaving young families behind. Below is a list of 5 regions in the state of Oregon where the poverty rate for families with children under the age of 5 has drastically increased. They are ranked according to their percentage point increase in the poverty rate for young families from 2010 to 2013, from smallest increase to largest. It is no surprise that each of these regions’ Head Start programs appeared to achieve full enrollment; reporting a higher cumulative enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year than their funded enrollment level according to Program Information Reports from The Office of Head Start. A detailed report can be found by clicking on the regions “County” column.

Counties Head Start Program 2010 Poverty Rate for Families with Children Under the Age of 5 2013 Poverty Rate for Families with Children Under the Age of 5 2010-2013 Percentage Point Change in Poverty Rate
Columbia, Clatsop & Tillamook County, OR Child & Family Development Program 13.10% 23.44% 10.34%
Douglas County, OR UNITED COMMUNITY ACTION NETWORK 26.03% 37.28% 11.25%
Deschutes County, OR NeighborImpact Head Start 6.27% 18.74% 12.47%
Lincoln County, OR Community Service Consortium Head Start 15.08% 29.48% 14.40%
Malheur County, OR Malheur County Child Development Center 24.71% 40.21% 15.50%

Columbia, Clatsop & Tillamook County, OR

Timber was a major economic force for these three counties in Oregon’s northwest corner. Wood products, agriculture, fishing and tourism are among the major industries today. The poverty rate for young families has gone from 13.1% in 2010 to 23.4% in 2013. Based on this trend, the estimated number of children eligible for Head Start services (defined as 3 & 4 year olds whose families are below the federal poverty level) more than doubled from 289 in 2010 to 591 in 2013. Annual cumulative enrollment for Child & Family Development Program, the Head Start program that serves this area, went up from 397 in the 2010-2011 school year to 442 in the 2013-2014 school year. A full report on the area’s demographics can be found at Early Childhood Analytics’ web app.

A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Columbia, Clatsop & Tillamook Counties, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Columbia, Clatsop & Tillamook Counties, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Columbia, Clatsop & Tillamooks Counties. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Columbia, Clatsop & Tillamooks Counties. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.

Douglas County

As of 2015 Roseburg Forest Products is the largest employer in Douglas County and 25-30% of the county’s labor force is employed in the forest product industry. The poverty rate for young families in this southern Oregon county is among the highest in the state, at 37.3% in 2013, up from 26% in 2010. This increase has lead to a jump in the number of estimated Head Start eligible children (3 & 4 year olds living below federal poverty guidelines) from 496 in 2010 to 869 in 2013. Head Start funded enrollment for the county’s Head Start Program, United Community Action Network, has not kept up with this increase in the poverty rate. It has declined from 339 in 2010 to 336 in 2013 according to Program Information Reports from the Office of Head Start. Oregon’s state fudned early childhood education program may be serving the additional eligible children in Douglas County. A full report on the area’s demographics can be found at Early Childhood Analytics’ web app.

A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Douglas County, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Douglas County, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Douglas County, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Douglas County, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.

Deschutes & Crook Counties

It comes as no surprise that Deschutes & Crook Counties are on this list. The Bend-Redmond Metro Area made the list of the Top 10 Metro Areas in the US with the biggest 5 year increase in the poverty rate for young families. This is inspite of rapid growth in tourism and outdoor recreation in the county over the past 2 decades. The poverty rate for young families went from 6.27% in 2010 to 18.74% in 2013; almost tripling. This poverty rate is still below that of the state of Oregon as a whole, which was at 21.2% in 2013. Still, such a rapid change should be noted. NeighborImpact Head Start, the Head Start program for the county, enrolled a total of 505 children in 2013-2014, up from 448 in 2010-2011. The estimated number of Head Start eligible children in the county was 233 in 2010 and 662 in 2013. A full report on the area’s demographics can be found at Early Childhood Analytics’ web app.

A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Deschutes and Crook Counties, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Deschutes and Crook Counties, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Deschutes and Crook Counties, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Deschutes and Crook Counties, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.

Lincoln County

Lincoln County’s work force is primarily employed in sectors of the economy that serve tourists, with 18.9% of the work force employed in the arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services sector and 15.6% employed in Retail trade in 2013 according to the US Census Bureau. The county also has one of the nations busiest fishing ports, Newport, Oregon. The poverty rate for young families climbed from 15.08% in 2010 to 29.48% in 2013, almost doubling. The change in the number of estimated Head Start eligible children was less drastic due to the county’s declining population and portion of the population under the age of 5. The estimated number of Head Start eligible children in Lincoln County was 200 in 2010 and increased to 297 in 2013. Community Services Consortium Head Start, which serves Lincoln County, had a steady total funded enrollment of 154 for the 2010-2011 school year to the 2013-2014 school year. A full report on the area’s demographics can be found at Early Childhood Analytics’ web app.

A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Lincoln County, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Lincoln County, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Lincoln County, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Lincoln County, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.

Malheur County

Malheur County has experienced population decline over the years of this study, from about 43,000 in 2010 to about 30,800 in 2013. 94% of the county is rangeland, with 17.2% of the labor force working in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining, making it the 2nd highest employment sector of the economy behind education and health care services and social assistance at 20.7% in 2013 according to the US Census Bureau. The poverty rate for young families went from 24.7% in 2010 to 40.2% in 2013, making it the area with the largest jump in its poverty rate in this study. Malheur County also has the highest porvery rate for young families compared to other Head Start service areas in Oregon. Due to population decline, the number of estimated Head Start eligible children in Malheur County did not see as significant of an increase, going from 317 in 2010 to 346 in 2013. Malheur County Child Development Center offers Head Start services in the area. It’s funded enrollment has remained steady over the years, at 212 for the 2013-2014 school year. A full report on the area’s demographics can be found at Early Childhood Analytics’ web app.

A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Malheur County, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A heat map showing the disbribution of Head Start eligible children in Malheur County, Oregon. Click on the map for an interactive version.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Malheur County, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.
A graph comparing the Estimated Number of Head Start eligible children to Cumulative Head Start enrollment in Malheur County, Oregon. Based on the 5-Year ACS from the US Census Bureau and Head Start Program Information Reports.

Methodology

Each region is approximately defined according to Head Start service areas. Data for each region is compiled from Zip Code level 5-Year American Community Survey data from the US Census Bureau.

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