Trends revealed in index |

Trends revealed in index

Ronda Sluder

To help business people and policy makers build a better quality of life in their community, the Sierra Business Council compiled a study of the trends and current conditions of the region’s counties entitled “The Sierra Nevada Wealth Index”. Key findings of the index incorporated three aspects of the wealth of each region that included social, natural and financial capital studies.

Strengths found in El Dorado County showed that the percentage of high school students scoring at least 1000 points on the SAT exceeded the California average between 1992 and 1998. The county also had one of the lowest crime rates in the Sierra Nevada and was ranked at 42 percent at the California level.

Some areas of concern in the social aspect of the county was that housing is less affordable than the California average for homeowners earning less than $26,000 per year (in 1997 dollars).

Local hospital capacity is also limited and the suicide rate averaged one and a half times the California average between 1989 and 1997.

In regard to natural capital, the gross revenues for grapes in the county were high and the number of acres planted increased significantly as well. Also, at least 80 percent of nine habitat types are protected from conversion.

Areas of concern focused on the number of acres in the Williamson Act agricultural land preservation contracts declining and air pollution’s being higher. Lake Tahoe clarity has also declined by 30 percent in 30 years.

As for financial strength in El Dorado County, unemployment has declined from an annual average of eight percent in 1993 to five percent in 1998, remaining lower than the California rate. Per capita income also increased from $24,500 in 1990 to $25,100 in 1996.

Concerns also related to local wages declining as well as people commuting to another area for work thereby reducing the workforce in a particular county. Construction jobs, which were deemed as a high risk profession, also account for about 10 percent of jobs, double the California rate of 4.5 percent.

Total population in 1998 checked in at 151,737 with a natural increase of 6,664 and a net migration of 16,036.

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