2012 Cost of Living update—The village by the numbers
- Published: June 28, 2012
Who lives in Yellow Springs, and what are they paying to be here? The answers to those questions can be found in the 2012 Yellow Springs Cost of Living Report, completed this spring by Wright State University’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) and paid for by the James A. McKee Association. The report, the second in a decade focused on the village, is intended for use as an impartial reference in discussions about planning the future of Yellow Springs.
CUPA’s Associate Director Jane Dockery along with members of the McKee group gave a presentation of the study on Thursday, June 14, at the Senior Center. The data is based on the 2010 U.S. Census, and, like the first study, follows the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association research model to look at changes in demographics such as population, age, occupation and income, as well as the cost of housing, taxes and public and private goods and services. The study also compares the data for Yellow Springs with Ohio and the U.S., as well as towns of similar size and purpose in the region.
While McKee leaders Harry Lipsitt and Jerry Sutton during the presentation emphasized the group’s intention not to analyze or interpret the data but to simply “report the facts,” the group hopes to host a forum sometime in the fall where villagers can discuss the data and its implications for the town. The forum could be modeled on the Community Economic Planning Forums that accompanied the release of the first Cost of Living study in 2002, they said.
Data in the first half of the study shows the Yellow Springs population getting smaller, older and less diverse at rates that either go against or significantly exceed both state and national averages. For instance, over the past 30 years, while the U.S. population has steadily increased 52 percent and Ohio has seen steady, albeit much smaller growth of just over 8 percent, Yellow Springs’ population has declined over 24 percent.
The overall decline in population is reflected in the loss of those under 24, and though it isn’t mentioned in the data, the drop also mirrors a steady decline in enrollment at Antioch College over that period. The study shows a corresponding and steady increase in the median age of villagers from 22 in 1970 to 48 in 2010, and illustrates through a graph that the village is aging at a faster rate than both Ohio and the U.S. The data shows that Yellow Springers are “aging in place,” Dockery said, which should stimulate local discussions about related issues, such as how to leverage the Yellow Springs Senior Center to best serve that growing cohort, she said.
According to Dockery, the rise in median age and therefore decline in women in their childbearing years has an implied effect on the decline in the number of persons per household, which has dropped from 2.84 to 2.04 since 1970. And in terms of racial diversity, which according to Dockery was a “big discussion” point in the Cost of Living study 10 years ago, Yellow Springs is clashing squarely against state and national trends. Since 1970 the village has become steadily less diverse, with minorities comprising 28 percent of the population in 1970 and about 22 percent today, while the numbers have climbed from 13 percent of the U.S. population in 1970 to 28 percent now. Dockery noted that Yellow Springs has very little of the Hispanic population that is growing rapidly around the country.
Median household income has in recent decades been higher in the village than elsewhere, and is now $56,000 per year versus $47,000 in Ohio and $52,000 in the nation. The data squares with higher median housing values in the village, which rose to $197,000 in 2012, compared to $136,000 in Ohio and $188,000 in the U.S. And Yellow Springers have always had a high level of education, including 57 percent currently with a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is about double the state and national averages.
“Yellow Springs is unlike anywhere with a huge proportion of the population holding a bachelor’s degree or more,” Dockery said during the presentation. “That makes the village desirable among educators.”
The education levels match the preponderance of professional jobs in the village. More than half of the jobs in Yellow Springs are management and professional occupations, which is nearly double the state and national averages, with sales and production in Yellow Springs providing about 40 percent of the jobs, compared to over 55 percent in Ohio and the U.S.
However, the poverty rate in Yellow Springs, while comparable or below state and national averages before 2000, shot up over the past 10 years (which Dockery noted was due to the “great recession”) to over 15 percent of the village population, slightly higher than the national average.
Data related to cost
The data on the costs associated with living in Yellow Springs compared the village with the regional villages of comparable size and services, including Bellbrook, Cedarville, Enon, Germantown, Tipp City and Waynesville. Several at the presentation commented that Yellow Springs is more like the Dayton suburb of Oakwood than any of the comparative communities, though Dockery urged participants to look at how the recession has leveled some of the previous inequities between the communities.
For instance, comparing housing values shows Yellow Springs soars above all six other communities at a median of $197,000, versus the low of $136,000 in Cedarville and the next to highest $162,000 in Bellbrook. But the median residential sales in Yellow Springs dropped significantly in 2009 to a level more comparable with Bellbrook, Waynesville and Tipp City. In terms of median mortgage costs, including taxes, interest and insurance, Yellow Springs, at $1,477 per month, is again very similar to Bellbrook and Waynesville. And regarding average renter occupied housing costs, the median monthly rent for both houses and apartments in Yellow Springs is actually more affordable at $715 than Bellbrook at $889 and Waynesville at $808. In terms of other services, including electric, water, sewer and solid waste utility costs, Yellow Springs hovers at the lower end of the pack.
Property tax rates also show that Yellow Springs behaves not unlike its neighboring towns and villages. On property taxes for all purposes, Yellow Springs residents pay a total rate of 95.6 mills, which is lower than Bellbrook’s 104 mills but higher than rates between 64 and 81 for all the other towns. But for its effective tax rate, Yellow Springs is very average at 61.1 mills.
Municipal income taxes are slightly different in Yellow Springs, which along with Tipp City has the highest rate of 1.5 percent, versus Germantown, Cedarville and Waynesville between 1 and 1.25 percent and Bellbrook and Enon with no income tax. Yellow Springs school income taxes are also at 1 percent, close to Cedarville and Germantown’s 1.25 percent, compared to nothing for Bellbrook, Enon, Tipp City and Waynesville.
However, altogether, the estimated annual property and income tax burden for Yellow Springers at $5,098 is higher than all six other communities, which range between $3,782 in Enon and $4,698 in parts of Germantown.
The 2012 Cost of Living update also includes data on the cost of private services, such as personal and health services, plumbing repairs and grocery costs. A copy of the report is available at the library and can be downloaded from the McKee group Web site, www.45387.org. Anyone interested in organizing a discussion on the most recent data is invited to contact McKee group members Ron Schmidt, who helped administer the data collection, or Jerry Sutton.