Researcher examines changing local demographics

Ron Crouch, director of Research and Statistics for the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, spoke Tuesday afternoon in Freed Curd Auditorium about changing demographic patterns in the U.S., Kentucky and specifically Calloway County.

Crouch stressed the relationship between the decline in births of white Americans since the baby boomer generation and the continued growth of the country’s international populations and what effect this will have.

From 2010-2013 two-thirds of Kentucky’s growth in population was due to natural increase, having more births than deaths, and one-third was due to international immigration. Crouch said the U.S., Canada and Australia are the only countries experiencing any growth and, for the U.S., growth is only coming from the black, Hispanic and Asian communities.

In Murray’s purchase area, Graves County was the only county with more births than deaths as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“What I’m about to say gets me in trouble sometimes,” Crouch said. “But we need to pay the Minutemen to go down to the Mexican border. Not to build walls, but actually to open up lemonade stands and give Hispanics who cross the border free lemonade and cookies.”

Apart from addressing population trends in his presentation, Crouch also talked about stereotypes concerning tax reform, the preparedness and performance of Kentucky high school graduates in college and what job industries in the Commonwealth were growing and declining.

According to predictions from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, job growth from 2010-2020 will come in three major occupational groups: healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, office and administrative support occupations and transportation and material moving occupations with growths of 24.9 percent, 10.1 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Jay Morgan, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said he invited Crouch to speak because he thought it would be beneficial to hear about changing demographic trends as the University moves forward with its new strategic plan and for general planning purposes.

“I don’t know if any one certain bullet point will shape our curriculum,” Morgan said. “But generally it makes us begin to think about how do we make sure we meet the rising demand for certain jobs and how do we make sure we have programs that meet those needs. And also how do we look at existing programs where the job outlook maybe is not quite so bright and shift those resources to something that might serve us better.”

Morgan said some of the statistics from the presentation that stuck out to him were those dealing with high school students in Calloway County.

According to the 2013 Kentucky High School Feedback Report produced by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, 54.8 percent of graduates from the Calloway County school district were not prepared for college-level math, 39.7 percent were not prepared for college-level English and 51.6 percent were not prepared for college-level reading. Of these 2010-2011 graduates from the area, more than 70 percent attended Murray State.

President Davies said he has paid attention to demographic trends for the past five years, especially in the past year to those in the Calloway County area as he became a candidate for presidency at Murray State. He said demographic data is something universities should be paying attention to.

“As we look at the strategic planning process, take notice of this data, understand this data, the implications that it has, then we can start wrestling with it,” Davies said. “Once you know what’s out there, what the shifts are, what the challenges are and what the changes are we can use that information to make decisions, to design new programs academically and to design programs student service-wise as well.”

 

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer