Community and Health Indicators

There are many ways to measure a community’s health and livability. In this section, we provide a sample of community, health, and education indicators for the region.

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Graduation Rate

As we explored earlier in this report, educational attainment is a crucial component of economic success and participation in the region’s workforce. The Oregon Department of Education began making high school graduation rate data available in 2007, as the chart above depicts.

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Types of Graduates

Types of graduates from Linn Benton Community College, Oregon Coast Community College, and Oregon State University:

The top degree program at Linn Benton Community College (LBCC) in the 2004-2005 academic year, by the number of degrees awarded, was the Associate General Studies (AGS) with 126 degrees awarded, followed closely by the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree (AAOT) with 103 degrees awarded. Students who complete the AAOT and are accepted at Oregon public universities will be admitted as having completed all lower division comprehensive and general education requirements for a baccalaureate degree. In the 2013-2014 academic year, the AAOT was the top-awarded degree (151 degrees awarded), followed by the AGS (106 degrees awarded).

At Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC), the top degree awarded in 2004-2005 was the AGS (20 degrees awarded), followed closely by the AAOT with 18 degrees awarded. Like at LBCC, the AAOT was the top degree awarded by the 2013-2014 academic year (30 degrees), while four AGS degrees were awarded by OCCC in 2013-2014.

At Oregon State University (OSU), the top degree awarded in 2004-2005 was the Bachelor of Science in the College of Health and Human Services, Human Development and Family Sciences program (220 degrees). This program also accounted for the highest number of degrees in the 2013-2014 academic year (340). OSU awarded 4,219 total degrees in the 2004-2005 academic year and 5,891 in 2013-2014.

LBCC awarded
AGS degrees

OCCC awarded
AGS degrees

OSU awarded
in total

School Enrollment

Data from the Oregon Department of Education show that over the past nine school years, region-wide public school enrollment in K-12 had a one percent annual growth rate, compared to just 0.3 percent statewide. However, a closer look at the year-to-year changes in the region shows some fluctuations in enrollment before and after the recession. The growth in the region can be attributed to Linn County, where student enrollment increased 24 percent from 2004 to 2013. Conversely, Benton and Lincoln counties show a drop in K-12 student enrollment from 2004 to 2013 of -6.6 percent and -11.8 percent, respectively.

Linn County’s overall population as of 2000 was 103,069, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and it increased to 119,705 by 2014, a larger increase than the populations of Benton or Lincoln Counties during the same period. This may partially explain the increase in the county’s student population.

Dropout Rate

Dropout rate trends are similar to enrollment trends, with a decline in the recession years – when enrollment declined – and higher dropout rates as enrollment increased from 2011 to 2012.

Education Spending

Spending per student was on the rise until the recession. The recession contributed to lower operating expenditures per student from the 2008 school year through 2011. In 2012, spending levels increased modestly and were forecasted to increase for 2013-2014 as well.

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K-12 Capital Expenditures

Capital expenditures vary per year and per county. Capital expenditures statewide peaked just before the recession in 2008 with expenditures of just under $1,400 per student annually.

A note on the 2011-2012 spike in expenditures in Lincoln County: In 2013, Lincoln County School District completed a project to move all schools out of tsunami zones. A new Waldport High School building was constructed as part of this effort, and six other school sites saw major renovations and additions including portable buildings, band rooms, offices, and gyms.

All capital expenditures in Benton County in 2011 were in the Philomath School District. In 2008, Linn County saw major capital project in the Greater Albany Public School District with some smaller projects in Lebanon and Sweet Home.

School Readiness

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 1,400 children in the region were eligible for federally funded Head Start programs or state-funded Oregon Pre-Kindergarten programs in the 2013-14 school year. Participation rates vary by county. The Oregon Department of Education reports that 770 children in the region, or 55 percent of those who are eligible, were enrolled in either Head Start or Oregon Pre-Kindergarten programs. Statewide, approximately 21,800 children were eligible, with 62 percent of those enrolled in Head Start or Oregon Pre-Kindergarten.

Veterans Funding

Veterans are an important demographic in our region. They make up a significant portion of our population, contribute heavily to the economy, and also require significant health care services, as they are a population that is aging and disproportionately disabled. While the number of veterans in the region decreased from 2001-2014, expenditures for veterans services increased 400 percent. This is similar to the 9.7 percent decrease in the number of veterans statewide coupled with a large increase in expenditures, over 200 percent, over the same period.

Expenditures include:

  • Compensation and Pension,
  • Education and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment,
  • Insurance and Indemnities,
  • Construction,
  • General Operating Expenses,
  • Loan Guaranty, and
  • Medical Care.

Veterans Demographics

While veterans in our region have a lower poverty rate than the general population, they have a higher rate of disability. Over half of veterans in the region are 65 or older.

Benton County Veterans Service Office

The Benton County Veterans Service Office (VSO) is housed within the OCWCOG. The VSO assists veterans in applying for programs and services for which they are entitled from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claims and benefits. In the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2015 (April 1 to June 30, 2015), the VSO provided services to approximately 700 of the estimated 6,100 veterans in Benton County (11 percent).

Disability Status

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates on disability, the region has a higher percentage of total residents with a disability (15.1 percent) than the state (14.1 percent) and the nation overall (12.3 percent). In the region, 51.5 percent of the population that has a disability is age 18-64. The percentage of people in the region, with a disability that affects their ability to live independently (for example, doing errands or attending medical appointments), is 5.8 percent, slightly lower than in the State, but the same percentage as in the nation overall.

Notes: Disability is determined for the civilian, non-institutionalized population. The U.S. Census Bureau defines disability as a having one or more of the following difficulties: hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, or independent living. An independent living difficulty is one which, due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition, an individual has difficulty doing errands alone, such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping. Refer to the U.S. Census Bureau for additional information on these data.


Across the region local agencies annually conduct a Point In Time count of the homeless population. For the years in which data are available, 2013 saw the largest number of homeless persons in the region. According to annual Point in Time counts, in 2015, the majority of homeless residents in the region were between the ages of 18 and 54.

Gender of the Homeless Population

The majority of homeless people in the region in 2015 were male, according to the Point in Time counts.

Race of the Homeless Population

73.3 percent of those counted in 2015 were non-Hispanic white, lower than the region’s population in general which the Census Bureau 2014 estimates show to be 84.3 percent white, non-Hispanic.

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Homelessness Among K-12 Public School Students

The Oregon Department of Education (ED) reported that there were 1,606 homeless K-12 grade public school students in the region in 2013. This equates to 4.4 percent of all public school students in the region. Statewide, 3.3 percent of students are homeless. The region saw a dramatic increase in student homelessness from 2007 to 2008, with an increase of slightly more than 500 homeless students. However, that number decreased by 300 the following year.

Homeless students have a variety of living situations, with the majority (79.3 percent in the 2013-14 school year) sharing homes with relatives or friends due to economic hardship (“doubled-up”). According to Oregon ED statistics, over 150 students in the region are classified as “unsheltered,” reportedly living in cars, trailers, parks, public spaces, substandard housing, abandoned buildings, or similar settings that are not designed as regular sleeping accommodations.

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Assistance Programs

SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimates for poverty, 19.8 percent of the region’s residents (for whom poverty status is determined) reported income below the federal poverty level in 2013 and 21.4 percent received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The number of participants can be higher than the number of people in poverty, because the program’s gross income limits are higher than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. SNAP participation in the region has only recently started to show signs of decreasing after several years of increases.

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Assistance Programs

SNAP Participation and Information

Participation rates show the percent of eligible people who receive SNAP benefits. Eligibility includes a number of factors based on both net and gross income, along with value of assets. The increase in Lincoln County in 2011 is traced to a drop in the estimate of people in poverty. An anomaly here is that Benton and Linn counties each had more people in poverty for 2011 than in either 2010 or 2012.

The average monthly SNAP benefit per person is just under $125, or $1.39 per meal. Benefits are consistent with the state, with some small fluctuations in 2011 and 2012.

SNAP eligibility guidelines for households: To be eligible for SNAP benefits, a family’s gross monthly income generally must be at or below 130 percent of the poverty line, or $2,144 (about $25,700 a year) for a three-person family in fiscal year 2015. Households with an elderly or disabled member need not meet this limit. Its net monthly income, or income after deductions are applied for items such as high housing costs and child care, must be less than or equal to the poverty line (about $19,800 a year or $1,650 a month for a three-person family in fiscal year 2015). Its assets must fall below certain limits: in fiscal year 2015 the limits are $2,250 for households without an elderly or disabled member and $3,250 for those with an elderly or disabled member.

SNAP Quick Facts (source ACS 3-year estimates 2011-2013)

  • Disabled: Of the households in the region that received SNAP benefits, 44 percent had 1 or more persons with a disability (Workers: Over 75 percent (76.2%) of families in the region that received SNAP benefits have at least 1 worker in the family. 29 percent have 2 or more workers in the family.  (State numbers: 80 percent and 34.7 percent, respectively)
  • Children: 47.2 percent of households in the region that received SNAP have children under 18 years old (46.9 percent for State – essentially the same)
  • Seniors: 25.5 percent of households in the region have at least one person who is 60 years or older (same for state: 25.5 percent)

Assistance Programs

SSI – Supplemental Security Income Program

According to the Social Security Administration’s guidelines, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides monthly cash payments to people who are 65 and older, as well as those who are blind or disabled, whose countable income is less than $5,808 per year (or is less than a combined income of $8,712 for a couple with both eligible), as of January 1, 1997. In most cases, ownership of financial assets is limited to $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. Annual data from the Social Security Administration show that since 2004, the state and the region have experienced an annual growth rate of SSI recipients of slightly more than four percent, at 4.2 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. In 2013, this amounted to 2.1 percent of the population in the state receiving SSI, closely comparable to the region’s 2.2 percent.

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Assistance Programs

SSI Recipients and Information

While 14 percent of the people in the region who received SSI in 2013 were age 65 or older, half also were blind or disabled.

The majority of people receiving SSI benefits are blind or disabled people under the age of 65. Across the state nearly 80 percent of SSI recipients are blind or disabled and are under the age of 65. The percentage of blind or disabled people under 65 receiving SSI is slightly higher in the region.

Infant Mortality

In 2013, the Oregon Health Authority recorded 12 infant deaths out of 2,496 live births in the region. The region’s infant mortality rate in 2013 was slightly better than the state rate at 4.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, and Oregon had a better infant mortality rate than the United States – For every 1,000 live births in Oregon, there were five deaths of children under one year old, compared to six deaths per 1,000 live births for the nation.


Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater in adults age 20 or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated percent of adults who reported a BMI of 30.0 or higher in the region is 27.1 percent, slightly lower than the state (27.3 percent) and the nation (27.7 percent).

This chart shows that our region’s obesity rate aligns closely with the national rates from 2004-2012. Also, our region has a lower overall obesity rate than two of our three peer regions.