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New Census Data Provide a More Detailed View of the Kansas City region

December 5, 2014

by Jeff Pinkerton

The Census Bureau released its 2013 5-year data this week. Admittedly that might not excite too many people, but for us at KCeconomy, it’s worth celebrating because it gives us a more detailed look at our region. For the first time, American FactFinder (the Census Bureau’s main data portal) provides data at the block group level. Until now, the most detailed level FactFinder provided was at the census tract level. Each census tract In the Kansas City area contains an average of three block groups.

Okay, so what does this really mean? Perhaps it is better to show you rather than tell you. Below are two maps of the same area (bounded roughly by 39th street to the north, Cleveland to the east, Roe to the West and Gregory to the south). They display the same data — median household income. The only difference is the top map uses census tracts, while the bottom one uses the more-detailed block groups.

Both maps show the wide range of incomes in this area, from lower-income areas on the east side of Kansas City, Missouri, and southeast Kansas City, Kansas, to very high-income areas south of the Country Club Plaza and in Mission Hills.

The more detailed block group map unveils some interesting facts that are hidden in the tract map. For starters, in the tract map, most of the area East of Troost is shaded light green representing the lowest income group (median household income of $35,000 or less). The block group map shows us that there are several neighborhoods in this area that have significantly higher median incomes. For instance, the block group between 55th and 59th Streets, just east of Bruce R. Watkins drive has a median income of $52,500. This is not too far off of the metro median household income of $56,815.

In another example, the block group on the northwest corner of 39th and Troost has a median household income of just over $100,000. This high-income neighborhood disappears when we look at the census tract level.

In analyzing our region’s economy, you can never have too much data. Access to the new block group data gives us an even finer lens to look through in the future.Census Tract MapBlock Group Map

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