The Ventura County Civic Alliance, an initiative of the Ventura County Community Foundation, has released its 2015 State of the Region report, an all-encompassing overview of the highs and lows of Ventura County.
The collection of statistics is an update from the 2013 report, adding several new categories, including “Wages and Cost of Living” and “Childhood Growth and Disparities,” to name a couple, and was compiled by a team of independent researchers led by California Lutheran University Professor Jamshid Damooei, chair of the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, School of Management, and written by freelance journalist Tony Biasotti.
“Ventura County continues to be a remarkable place; we’re fortunate to have a great deal of things going on here,” said David Maron, chairman of the report committee for the Alliance, referring to the county having a diverse economy, a range of public safety programs and access to education. On the other hand, Maron says that “There is not very much affordable housing for young workers straight out of college, trying to find that entry-level apartment.”
The numbers also reflect that Ventura County is one of the least affordable places in Southern California and the nation, with only 29 percent of county households able to afford a median-priced home, according to the report.
The industries that are hiring are those that tend to pay the least, with six of the 10 most high-demand jobs paying either $9 or $10 an hour, including farm workers, retail sales and food service, though the unemployment rate post-recession has fallen.
A single parent living in Ventura County with two children needs to earn $27.59 an hour to sustain them, according to the report.
Another category illustrates “the deep socioeconomic divides in Ventura County.”
The category “Childhood Growth and Disparities” made use of the “Misery Index,” a measure of eight socioeconomic indicators, including the poverty rate of those younger than 5 years of age. The sum of the percentages of the eight categories produces the level on the index.
Oak Park’s “Misery Index” score was a 37.2 while El Rio, Port Hueneme and Oxnard fell between 375 and 395. The worst score would be 800, meaning every category measures at a maximum of 100 percent.
Oak Park, in the far southern tip of the County, had “not a single child under the age of 6 below the poverty line in 2011,” while “In El Rio, for example, 45.9 percent of households led by a woman, with children 5 or younger, were living in poverty.” These represent two of the eight categories.
The report also reflects the county’s agricultural bounty; that out of 15 of the largest populated counties in California, Ventura County has the lowest rate of violent and property crimes; and on top of that, Ventura County also has the cleanest ocean water in Southern California.
The report, a 128-page tome of numbers and graphs, paints a varied picture of Ventura County.
“You can imagine if a person is thinking of relocating to Ventura County, or a school teacher is trying to decide where to live, there’s a lot of information for them,” said Maron.
Click here to read the report in full.