Did you know there are over 170 different community indicators on Skagit County Trends - each updated throughout the year? But which ones, and when?

This issue of the Skagit County Trends blog lists some of the most recently updated indicators on the Skagit County Trends website.  

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Recent Updates


Market Value of the Top-3 Commodities
Potatoes, nursery products – especially floriculture - and dairy products were the top 3 agricultural commodities by value in 2022 in Skagit County, that order. Their revenue totaled $177 million. Yet, as a percentage of all agricultural output, the three amounted to a lower share than a decade ago 48% vs. 57%. The agricultural sector of the county has become more diversified. 


New Business Applications
This new series from the U.S. Census provides a measure of firm “births.” The prior Trends indicator was able to measure only a net number: births minus exits (deaths) By this new measure, the pandemic did not hurt new business applications in Skagit County; in fact, they climbed in the two years following 2020. 

Metro Area Regional Price Parity (Cost of Living Index)
This measure from the U.S. Department of Commerce compares, on an annual basis, the cost of living among all metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the U.S. A value of 100 gives the average of all MSAs for that year. Unlike the CPI, we cannot compare year-to-year results for a particular MSA. For 2022, the local MSA price parity level was 105.7, above the national average. It was nonetheless quite a bit lower than the 2022 value for the Seattle MSA, at 113.7.  


Share of Children Ages 3 & 4 Enrolled in Preschool
The evidence is clear that learning by pre-school children leads to above-average performance in subsequent K-12 schooling. Yet, early child education is challenged by relatively low wages for staff and relatively high costs for the families that need the service. Currently (2022), the estimated share of 3- and 4-year-olds in the County enrolled is 22%, lowest on record. 

Public High School On-Time Graduation Rate

A high school diploma is a milestone in a person’s educational journey. Without it, the path to postsecondary education is much harder. And without it, lifetime earnings are lower than those with at least a diploma. The current, on-time (4 year) average graduation rate for Skagit County public school students in 2023 was 82%. This is higher than a decade ago (71%), but still lower than the Washington average (84%).   



Share of Public High School Students Attending Higher Ed Within One Year of Graduation
Attaining some post-secondary education, whether a certificate, an AA or a bachelor’s degree, leads to higher life-time earnings than for those who do not pursue education or training beyond high school. This measure tracks the share of Skagit County public school seniors who are in a 2-year or 4-year, non-for-profit higher ed institution closely after graduation. The pandemic lowered the rate. For the senior class of 2021, the total rate was 47%; for the senior class in 2019 in the County, 54%. 


Overall Water Quality Index of the Skagit River 
The Washington State Department of Ecology measures the quality of hundreds of water bodies constantly. Components include: temperature, turbidity, bacterial load, phosphorous content, among others. The data are presented as an index, where 100 is best and any value below 80 is cause for some concern. The most recent annual average for the Skagit River was 62 or 80, depending on location (Marblemount or Mt. Vernon). This represents a long-term decline for the river at Marblemount and slight improvement near Mt. Vernon.


Share of Deaths by Leading Causes  
For 2022, the five leading causes of death in Skagit County were quite similar, by share, to those of Washington state. Cancer led, at 21%, followed by heart disease, at 19%. Alzheimer’s, stroke and covid-19 (about 4%) rounded out the top five. Over time, the total share taken by the leading causes of death has diminished, implying a rise in other diagnoses. 


Annual Income Required to Afford Fair Market Rent 
Fair Market Rent (FMR) is a measure constructed by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to provide guidance to its housing support programs, such as Section 8 vouchers. Annual income required to afford FMR is based on the notion that housing costs should take up no more than 30% of a renting household’s income. Current (for 2024) required income in the for a one-bedroom unit in the County is $51,200 and for a two-bedroom, about $66,300. The past three years have ushered in steep rises in FMR. 


Share of Youth Feeling Sad or Hopeless 
This self-reported measure of public-school students gives an important window into their well-being and emotional growth. The indicator follows the reported share of 8th, 10th and 12th graders. As is easily seen, rising shares of young people in Skagit County have reported this condition over the past decade. They peaked during the pandemic (2021); the most recent (2023) estimates reveal much lower rates than a decade ago. 


updated 5.28.24

The full list of Skagit County Trends can be found here.