Today, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) released the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 San Fernando Valley Census Report. At his request, the Census Bureau updated the report using detailed data from the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS).
The Valley Census Report offers an annual demographic snapshot of the San Fernando Valley to help community organizations, businesses, and government leaders make better-informed decisions affecting the Valley's future and help our region compete for its fair share of funding for transportation improvements, housing, and social service programs. The first-ever Valley Census Report was released in December 2006, also at Congressman Sherman's request. The Census Bureau will release decennial census data by April 2011.
"The Valley Census Report reveals important information about the Valley's diverse population and the challenges it will continue to encounter as we recover from the economic recession," said Congressman Sherman. "The Valley's rich cultural diversity and highly educated workforce stands apart from other large regions, but the economic recession has prevented many Valley families from achieving economic security and homeownership," said Sherman.
The more than 1.77 million people who live in the Valley exceed the populations of all but the four largest cities in the United States - New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. According to the 2009 ACS data, the Valley's population has increased 4.7% since the 2000 Census.
The Valley Census Report shows that Valley residents spend, on average, nearly a half-hour (28.2 minutes) commuting to work, which is nearly 6% longer than the average Californian and 11% longer than the average American. Although commute times have decreased slightly from a year ago, Congressman Sherman continues to highlight the need to develop more transit alternatives and highway improvements for Valley residents, such as a transit corridor through the Sepulveda Pass to connect the Metro Orange Line and the future subway extension to Westwood and additional improvements to the 101/405 interchange.
Valley residents, on average, are more educated than other parts of the City and County with 117,365 people with graduate or professional degrees and another 259,125 with bachelor's degrees. Since 2000, the Valley has had a nearly 26% increase (77,458) in those with bachelor's or advanced degrees. Valley residents have access to renowned colleges and universities, such as California State University, Northridge, Woodbury University, Pierce College, Valley College, and Mission College, and efforts must continue to educate, train and retain this skilled workforce.
In 2009, the median home value as self-reported on the American Community Survey form by respondents in the Valley ($458,700) was higher than the median home value in Los Angeles County ($441,400) and California ($384,200), and was nearly triple the U.S. median home value ($185,200). According to the CSUN San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center Housing Report for October 2010, Valley home transactions decreased 30.4% from a year ago, but housing prices remain stable.
Also in 2009, nearly half of Valley homeowners (117,420) were spending 35% or more of their income on housing. Overall, the median monthly mortgage and homeowner's costs have increased nearly 10% ($2,381 to $2,632) since 2000. This dramatically contrasts with the U.S. as a whole, where only about a quarter spend over 35% of their income on housing.
The report also shows that poverty continues to plague many Valley families (11.1%, or over 44,401 households, have incomes below $15,000). Although the poverty rate has decreased over the last eight years in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles, the figures have edged upward within the last year due to the impact of the economic recession.
"The just released 2009 American Community Survey shows how the recent recession put pressure on the San Fernando Valley," said Dr. William W. Roberts, Director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at California State University, Northridge. According to Dr. Roberts, Valley residents that drove to work solo dropped by 3 percent and the average commute time fell by over a minute from 29.4 minutes in 2008 to 28.2 minutes in 2009. Notably, individuals working at home rose by over 30 percent to 44,500 in 2009. "While the greatest impact of the recession shows in the substantial rise in unemployment, the median household income declined by less than 3 percent," explained Dr. Roberts. "The Valley continues to be home for a highly diverse population employed in a broad range of industries. This diversity has helped us weather the economic downturn and should yield significantly improved figures for 2010," added Dr. Roberts.
"The results of the 2010 decennial census have a major impact on the drawing of political boundaries. That is why it's important that the San Fernando Valley be seen as an identifiable 'place,' both demographically and socially as these will be criteria used in determining legislative districts," explained Robert L. Scott, Director of the Mulholland Institute (a division of The Valley Economic Alliance). "The 2010 decennial data will be used throughout the coming decade, by government, non-profits and businesses in distributing services and making strategic decisions on a range of issues that affect the economics and development of our communities."