A Portrait of Sonoma County

SONOMA COUNTY HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2014

RELEASED MAY 20, 2014
A Portrait of Sonoma County is an in-depth look at how residents of Sonoma County are faring in three fundamental areas of life: health, access to knowledge, and living standards. While these metrics do not measure the county’s breathtaking vistas, the rich diversity of its population, or the vibrant web of community organizations engaged in making it a better place, they capture outcomes in areas essential to well-being and opportunity.

The May 20 release of A Portrait of Sonoma County is a public meeting at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.  It is open to the public and will be webcast live from here. A Spanish translation is also available via this link: Un Retrato Del Condado De Sonoma.

APOS-thumbnailCommissioned by the County of Sonoma Department of Health Services (DHS), A Portrait of Sonoma County: Sonoma County Human Development Report 2014 is a collaborative effort in which the Measure of America team worked with local advocates in Sonoma County to better understand gaps in opportunities and build a comprehensive and inclusive response to the report.

Over sixty county leaders and community members have contributed to the final product, and these joint efforts have allowed stakeholders to lay the groundwork for quick action after the report’s release. Public and private sectors advocates have already signed on to a Pledge of Support (see below) to address the challenges the report identifies. For anyone who is interested in signing the Pledge, please email: info@sonomahealthaction.org
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For media and all other inquiries, contact Eric J. Henderson: eric@measureofamerica.org | (718) 517-3606.

SELECT FINDINGS:

Sonoma County is rich in organizations dedicated to improving the lives of residents, particularly those who face high barriers to living freely chosen lives of value and opportunity, but huge disparities persist regarding levels of health, education, and standard of living among the County’s population. At the top of the rankings is East Bennett Valley (HD Index: 8.47), with Roseland Creek scoring the lowest (HD Index: 2.79), well below that of Mississippi, the lowest ranked state. Rankings on the American Human Development Index are provided for the major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and Sonoma’s ninety-nine census tracts.

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HEALTH:

  • Sonoma County residents have an average life expectancy of 81.0—two years longer than the national average of 79.0 but just under California’s life expectancy of 81.2.

  • An entire decade separates the life expectancies in the top and bottom census tracts. Those who are born in Kenwood/Glen Ellen can expect to live 75.2 years, while those in Central Bennett Valley average 85.7 years.

  • Analysis of Sonoma County’s ninety-nine tracts shows a clear positive correlation between life expectancy and education: people in neighborhoods with higher educational attainment and enrollment have longer lives.

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EDUCATION:

  • Variation in educational outcomes by census tract in Sonoma County is significant and meaningful. The range in the percentage of adult residents with less than a high school diploma is huge, going from a low of 0.4 percent in North Oakmont/Hood Mountain to a high of 46.1 percent in Roseland Creek. The range in school enrollment is likewise vast, from 53.8 percent in Forestville to 100 percent in Central East Windsor.

  • In Sonoma County, as in most metro areas and states as well as nationally, educational attainment follows a similar pattern: Asian Americans have the highest score, followed by whites, African Americans, and Latinos. The Education Index is measured by combining the highest degree attained by adults 25 and older and school enrollment of all kids and young adults ages 3 to 24.

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LIVING STANDARDS:

  • Median earnings, the main gauge of material living standards in this report, are $30,214 annually in Sonoma County, which is roughly on par with earnings in California and the country as a whole. Of the three indicators analyzed in this report—unemployment, child poverty, and housing burden—Sonoma falls near the middle of the pack compared to its peer counties in California.

  • Men in Sonoma County earn about $8,500 more than women. This wage gap is similar to the gap between men and women at the state level, although it is around $1,000 smaller than at the national level.

  • Level of education is the single biggest predictor of earnings for racial and ethnic groups and for census tracts in Sonoma County.

  • In Sonoma County, whites earn the most money, $36,647 annually, followed by Asian Americans ($32,495), African Americans ($31,213), and Latinos ($21,695). This is found in California as a whole as well, although Asian Americans are the top-earning group in the country overall.

A Portrait of Sonoma County draws attention to these disparities within the community and highlights methods to address the often interlocking disadvantages faced by families who are falling behind. The report not only ends with an Agenda for Action—a set of recommendations in health, education, and income that scholarly research and well-documented experience have shown will be essential to boosting American Human Development Index scores—but also a Pledge of Support from over sixty community actors. These organizations and elected officials have committed to using A Portrait of Sonoma County to better understand gaps in opportunities and to partner with community organizations and agencies to identify the strengths and assets on which to build a comprehensive and inclusive response to the report.