Sunday, May 31, 2009

Landscapes North: Northrige/Vandaila/Butler Topography

One of the peculiar features of the Dayton area is the landscape, which isn't quite the midwestern stereotype of flat lands and cornfields.

An example is the reigon directly north of the city, between the Great Miami and Stillwater rivers. Using a topographic map from around 1903 (before the start of suburbanization) as a basis one can do some topographical analyses.

Identifying various types:

1. Midwestern Plains: the stereotypical midwest landscape, a mix of farms and woolots.

2. Flat to Rolling Country: still charactersitic of the plains, but more rolling, not as flat

3. Hills & Valleys/Creek Valley: valleys along watercourses, steeper slopes.

4. Bluffs & Steep Slopes: well defined valley walls with steep slopes and ravines.

5. Flats & Bottoms: nearly dead-level land along the rivers.

6. Bench: Flat land just above the river bottoms, seperated from them by a low bluff or hill

7. River Oxbows/Changing River Course: The Great Miami apparently meandered in its bottoms, changing course from time to time, leaving oxbows. This process has stopped due to flood control.

8. The Ridge: A somewhat unique feature, perhaps a glacial remnant, a higher piece of land with steep slopes on either side.
Also shown are "the narrows", which is really not a river narrows but a tight spot on Frederick Pike, where the road is wedged between some steep slopes and river.

One can see how the fairly flat landscape of the midwestern plains breaks into tongues of more rolling yet still mostly level terrain, but then drops to the river and creek valleys via hills and steeper slopes, and how extensive the flatlands are along rivers.

Laying the rectantular coordinate survey system over the landscape yields the "Midwestern Grid"....
..which drives the location of property lines and later roads. Eventually there was the canal (shown as a lighter blue) and railroad (in black) and country villages.

..finally, the cultural landscape on the eve of suburbanization:

A closer look at two parts of the landscape. the Northridge area, with Dixie Drive drawn in in red.

..and the Vandalia/Chambersburg area, which is at a higher evelvation. The drainage divide between the Stillwater and Great Miami is shown. North Dixie Drive and US 40/National Road are drawn in for reference.

Taking two diagrammatic cross sections one can see, in the first, how the land steps down to the Great Miami. The low bluff that seperates the bench from the bottom lands is evident inside the city of Dayton, too, in South Park (at the Emerson School), St Annes Hill (Dutoit Street and Steamboat House hills) and Front Street (the hill on 2nd as it passes between the buildings). In West Dayton its visible as the rise just the the east of Paul Lawrence Dunbar Street.
The cross section along the Great Miami Valley shows how the land rises from south (left) to north (right), which might account for the relatively high bluffs and valley walls in the vicinity of Vandalia and I-70, vicinity the Taylorsville Dam. The rise in evlevation is 262 feet, from 748 feet near where north Dixie crosses the river to 1,010 feet near the airport. The river is at around 770 feet at Taylorsville dam.

And how, when one is in the bottomlands near the Great Miami @ Dixie, one does not get a sense of being in a valley due to the indistinct bluffs and valley walls.

So perhaps a more subtle and varied landscape than one would expect.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Top RTA Routes by Riders/Hour

Another way of measuring RTA use.

The chart posted at the DDN has a riders/hour number for each route. Presumably this is the number of riders divided by the number of hours travelled. This is maybe another way of measuring heavy use.

Laying out the routes, least to most riders/hour, Route 7N (Main Street to Shiloh) is the obvious outlier, well above all other routes.

Dropping that one and looking at the rest, trying to ascertain breaks in the data in order to group routes, these are the top routes using the riders/hour measure, comprising 79.6% of all rides on RTA.
The key shows line weight for mapping the groups on a route map, here shown on the colored RTA map

...and stripping away the RTA map to see the geography as a diagram. 7N gets an extra-heavy line up Main.

Using this measure one does see three suburban lines appear:

  • X5 to Dayton Mall
  • 16S down Wilmington to the shopping district between I-675 and Alex-Bell Road
  • 19N up Brandt Pike to the new Meijer in Huber Heights
  • 22N, Northridge local service up North Dixie ending just north of Needmore .

It does seem the North Dixie/Northridge area is generating suprising amounts of riders for a suburban area, becuase 17N is also well-used by this measure. Together 22N and 17N comprise a high-use corridor leading into the city. Maybe an opportunity for transit oriented development (or re-development since this area is mostly built-out).

RTA: Regional Transit for Appalachians?

From the previous post, black and carless concentrations mapped. But note that East Dayton is better represented here, since the Xenia Avenue/Linden route to the Easttown hub is now appearing. So RTA use in East Dayton, while not as heavy as in some of the black neighborhoods, is somewhat better represented using this measure.

Consipicuous by their absence are the south suburbs; the Far Hills/South Dixe corridors. This part of Mongomery County doesn't appear to generate signifigant riders using the total number of passengers or the rides/hour measures.

Perhaps one can infer that some of the suburban routes that do appear are used for commuting or shopping by carless inner city residents (and maybe X5 is still serving what few commuters are going downtown).

Expanding the System?

The logical choice would be east to Greene County. And there are pockets of carlessness in Greene.

..most of them, suprisingly enough, in Xenia. The way Greene is tracted Xenia is split up between seven tracts, some extending out into the country, so the map probably distorts the extent of this . Most of these tracts have fairly high carless numbers, and one has two college campuses (CSU & Wilberforce).

Wright View and downtown Fairborn (the older part of Fairborn) also have fairly high carless numbers, the highest in the county outside of Xenia.
RTA does serve one of these pockets, sort of, by running to WSU, where it interfaces with Greene County CATS on-demand system. One could envision an extension of 1E into Fairborn from WSU.

CATS might be enough for Greene County, and maybe some form on-demand system might suffice for parts of Montgomery County, too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who Does RTA Serve?

RTA is in dire straights. It is caught in a spiral of declining tax subsidy forcing higher fairs and reduced service, making the system less and less appealing to riders. But people do use it.

The Dayton Daily News posted a 2007 table that provides some analyses of daily rides. This is an invaluable bit of information if one wants to study the demand or usage of the system.

Here's a graph of RTA routes ranked by number of weekday riders. This isn't the only way toLink measure use (the table also uses riders-per-hour), but we'll use this as the breaks in numbers are more obvious. The routes are grouped by breaks in the numbers, with an arbitrary cut-off of 1,000 riders per day to establish this as RTA's primary market or service area. Interestingly, this group of routes handles 2/3rds of RTA's daily riders.

The top of the chart has different line weights for different riders/day, as a way to show volume. Mapping this out on a grayed-out RTA routemap one can see that RTA runs a lot of lines that don't have high volumes, and that most of these are crosstown routes or serve the south suburbs.

Stripping out the RTA map the pattern becomes quite obvious. RTA's highest volume routes are on Salem, Main, and two routes that snake through West Dayton. For the remaing routes the service areas generating the highest volumes are in West Dayton and the Northwest Side.

For the east side the route to Ohmer Park and Belmont seems to also be heavily traveled, but there is somewhat lighter use on the parallel 5th (to the Linden hub) & 3rd (to WSU) routes. Heavy use on these might not extend to the end of the respective lines.

(click on this and the other charts to enlarge for the text)

Again the lack of high volume lines to the south suburbs are apparent (and this includes the Far Hills corridor; which has some the lightest local service traffic). The only suburban lines to exceed 1,000 riders/day head north to Englewood, Huber Heights, and Vandalia/Northridge. Vandalia/Northridge has the highest volume. The only high-volume line south is to northern Kettering, ending at the Woodman/Dorothy Lane shopping area.

RTA= Regional Transit for Africans? Blacks and RTA.

There is an unstated assumption that RTA is primarily a transit system for blacks, hence some of the coded racism in the comments relating to RTA issues at the DDN, or local racist jokes about what RTA stands for (yer humble hose has also heard RTA= return to Africa).

Using the admittedly outdated 2000 census numbers and maping out minority (i.e. non-white) census tracts it does seem that RTA's most heavily traveled routes are in or very near minority neighborhoods, so one can safely infer that the black community is indeed RTA's best customer, or they at lease use the routes in their neighborhoods.

Route numbers and riders per day are labled and provided in a table.

Carlessness and RTA.

Another measure is to use the 2000 census numbers for housing units without access to a vehicle, which is another way of saying carless households. There is an extensive post here at Dayonology discussing carlessness in Dayton, which might be worth reading in conjuction with this post.

Mapping out the census tracts with the highest carlessness, one can see an overlap with the minority areas, but also extending beyond them into East Dayton and certain suburban areas (Drexel and Northridge). So carlessness is probably the obvious reason people take the bus. It just so happens that a lot of the carless are apparently black, too.

Adding this dimension might explain the heavier traffic on the Northridge/Vandalia and West Third line. It might seem that some part of carless East Dayton are not served that well; in the case of Twin Towers, the Xenia Avenue route just misses getting counted as it is just below 1,000 riders/day, so there's the correlation.

The map notes that W 3rd is a high-volume transit corridor, if one adds up the volume of riders on the various routes that are on 3rd for all or part of the time.

Policy Implications

One can see why the RTA board doesn't want to raise taxes to increase the subsidy of the system since there are racial and socioecomic issues involved. The question would be "why am I paying for this and who rides the bus anyway? " The answer would be that 2/3rds of the riders are on lines serving black and carless areas, which are also areas of the poor (not mapped but there is an overlap).

The usage implys where worst-case cuts could occur. The lowest ridership routes are the ones that serve the three outlying villages: Brookville, Germantown, and Farmersville. These probably could be cut and not even missed. The next lowest routes are the suburban and crosstown routes, particularly the ones serving the Dayton Mall area. These could be cut too.

The lines shown here are the ones that really are the core of RTA and should be protected and enhanced at the expense of suburban service to points south. Given the volume on some of these runs the possibility of suburban or outer-neighborhood retrofit making things more transit-oriented are a real possibility. Good test areas for this would be Drexel, Northridge, North Main, and Salem.

So, maybe a smaller, but more relevant RTA with better service for the areas it does serve? And a planning strategy to retrofit suburbia along routes that could already be generating a higher volume of suburban riders.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Old Market House in the News

Indirectly, of course, since it was demolished in the late 1950s.

The article is here, and is about delays in the project due to unforseen site conditions, long lead times for certain items, and RTA blaming the contractor.

The contractor notes the unforseen site issues in the passage below. The underlined items sound like remnants of the old market house or its neighbors, since buildings along North and South Market had under-sidewalk and perhaps under-street vaults. And maybe the market itself had a basement:
Myers said construction problems relate directly to the unique circumstances of the site, a narrow space between buildings formerly called Market Street. Underground issues included foundations that were not known to be there, existing utilities that had to be rerouted or modified, electrical problems, basements and vaults, and a gas line that was supposed to be there but could not be found.

Too bad no one thought to do subsurface investigation here. Perhaps this was even an opportunity to do some urban archeology.

For more on the market house and neighboring buildings (lengthy map and pix essay):

From Market House to Bus Hub

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bank Street in the News Today

The wide open spaces of a part of Wright-Dunbar are explained in the Dayton Daily News today.

Apparenlty they are owned by the city and Sinclair College, part of an expansion plan (which has been "released", but not published) to take over more of West Dayton between Edwin C Moses and the river levee.

And there is one holdout owner, Donald Farra, who refuses to sell: Sinclair, Retiree Battle for Land.

Interestingly, his house appears in a Daytonology post of last year: The Last of Bank Street...
and a susbesquent post chronicles the elimination of a neighbor The Last of Bank Street Revisited.

The DDN article also indirectly explains a puzzing aspect of the demolition covered in Bank Street Revisited, which is why the city bothered to demolish a house in an area of empty land when there are worse nuisance vacacnies in the city?. Answer: it wasn't the city, it was Sinclair.

Suprisingly, no one has questioned if this is the best use of the property. This is right on the river, and is already semi-wooded land from the demolished neighborhood that once stood here. One would have expected a Wright-Dunbar Phase II, closer to the river, levee walk, and bikepath. Instead we are going to get some banal, monolithic institutional building surrounded by parking or at best empty lawns, since that is the "Sinclair Style".

And Dayton will become just a little more dreary.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chopping Away at Hills & Dales

Hills & Dales Park was in the news last week due to some restoration work underway. Unfortunatly they can't restore the park to its former glory. Becuase too much was lost.

What we know today as Hills & Dales is a rump. A fragment of a much larger open space that would have been one of the great urban parks of Ohio, had it survived.

And here is a map of Hills & Dales at its greatest extend, with some surrounding roads labled for orientation. This park did not have a golf course, but it did have polo fields. And it did have extensive tracts south of Dorothy Lane.

An interesting "Olmstead" feature was Southern Boulevard, which was apparently planned to extend from Patterson Boulevard (into the city) to Alex-Bell Road (the southern part of this open space system is not shown here). An excellent demonstration of the parkway concept, which the Olmstead firm helped pioneer (this firm designed Hills & Dales and adjacent properties).

By the 1920s Hills & Dales was still mostly intact, adding features like an Open Air Theatre and some 'camp' features (Maplewood Camp and Big Hill) south of Dorothy Lane. The land hogging golf course appears, but the impact is mitigated by the extensive open space to the south and north (the golf course then was half as large as today).

The plan to extend Southern Boulevard apparently had been dropped by now, but a connecting road was exetended from Far Hills Avenue into the park (Park Road). The nice feature are the extensions to Far Hills and South Dixie Drive, acting as a forest preserve/park/greenbelt framing the developing southern suburbs.

By the early 1930s it was all gone. When Patterson (or his heirs) donated the park to the city they only donated a part of the orginal park, reserving the southern half. And note the east (right) side of the park has been eaten away by estate subdivisions; todays Ridgeway and adjacent streets.

A close-up showing how certain features of the 1930s (polo fields and open air theatre) disappear via the expansion of the golf course, leaving a rump of a park along the ridgeline directly east of the golf course.

But the greatest loss was the southern half, which would have provided park space for todays Moraine area and a greenbelt/forest preserve along Far Hills across from todays Fairmont school grounds.

Instead of donating the complete park the Pattersons apparently kept this half and subdivided the property. In the 1930s some of the old park roads can still be seen. This was a ghost plat as next to nothing was built (it must have been platted very close to the 1929 crash). The area was replatted after the Depression and there are more roads here now.

Researching this an interesting find was how Hills & Dales was eroded to the east. Apparently the original eastern boundary went deeper into Oakwood.

..but was whittled back to provide an estate subdivision, which is todays Ridgeway neighborhood. Some features apparenlty were not gifted to the city as a public park, as the Old Barn Club and Hills & Dales Camp do not show as park property in the 1930s map.

And, indeed they were not, as they ended up subdivided, as shown on the modern map from the Auditors website (right hand map). Also note the disappearance of some park roads, especially the Park Road connector to Far Hills.

All thats left of a massive belt of open space that would have defined suburban growth patterns if intact was chopped back to a rump, the landscaped fringes of a big golf course.

Just another example of how things never quite pan out right here in Dayton.

Or maybe an example of spin on the local notables who turn out to be keeping an eye out for the main chance. Yes the park is "donated", but only half, since the other half was an opportunity to cash in on real estate development in a boom time for real estate (the Roaring 20s). This would have especially been the case for the Ridgeway area as primo estate sites facing what was left of the park.

Which makes the park not just a leftover landscaping for the golf course but a landscaped backdrop for an exclusive estate district for the rich of Dayton.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Air Force Museum and the National Park

DDN editorialist Ellen Belcher opened up an interesting discussion with her op-ed on the relationship of the National Musuem of the US Air Force and the Dayton Aviation National Historic Park.

The Air Force Musuem is one of the great tourist attractions of Ohio, and it's free. So is the National Park (at least the parts that are actually controlled and staffed by the Park Service). And co-0peration between Wright-Patterson AFB and the National Park Service is ongoing, though not as visible as during the establishment of the park. In fact, this partnership is written into law, into the enabling legislation establishing the historic park.

But the question for local boosters is how to tap into this tourist flow to the Museum. Perhaps the issue is less what the Museum can do (it's mission is, after all, preseving and interpreting military aviation) and more what the local convetion and visitors bureaus can do.

And that its a good example of local balkanization as there are two; one for Greene County and another for Mongtomery County. How well do they cooperate in promoting tourist attractions in the entire region? The Museum is, technically, in Montgomery County. The nearest concentration of hotels for visitors is in Greene County. So it seems there is at least a mutually beneficial relationship possible, promoting the Museum but also the national park sites, one which is actually on the base in Greene County, and the other in Dayton.

Perhaps mostly a problem of marketing to a national audience.

Yet, finally, isn't it a matter of what turns the public on? Maybe people are just more interested in vintage fighters and bombers and the men that flew them. The Wrights don't seem as compelling a story, one that visitors with limited time will pass on.

Maybe this National Historic Park has, by its very subject matter, a somewhat limited audience compared to the Museum.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Urban Nights: Almost Getting It

It’s getting close. Urban Nights is finally getting close to meeting its promise of an urban festival.

Yer humble host attended some of the early Urban Nights and was usually disappointed. Usually the most action was at Front Street (not a player this year) and even a lot of at Wright-Dunbar (which is sort of the “black Urban Nights”, since things there are somewhat themed around black culture).

But downtown was always cold coffee. Things were too spread out. Activities inside of buildings, not well attended…or not attended enough to liven up the streets. So one saw knots of people wandering the empty acres of downtown from place to place. Sort of sad and pathetic as this visual mocked the entire concept.

Concentrating Urban Nights

Yesterdays Urban Nights still had that, example being that stage over at the Litehouse, well away from anything. But this seemed the exception. Instead the planners this year concentrated things in the heart of downtown. Particularly on Jefferson Street.

There was an entire series of events and venues set up on this street.

The Circus was a very key player here, taking the old bar at the corner of Jefferson and 3rd and adjacent restaurant space for a gallery/installation thing and a live music stage. The entire block between the Century and the corner was activated. Probably the best move was the drumming outside right on the corner, which created a knot of people and some interest/. Crowds draw crowds and this is exactly what went on here.

Across from this and complementing it was a stage (“Community Stage?”) in the parking lot next to the bar and pawnshop on Jefferson. So even more music. Up the street from this stage that was C-Space, with yet another music space.

And then follow the alley to Courthouse Square to hear yet another band, this time with a beer truck and food kiosks and tables and chairs. And, on 2nd, there was a stage next to the Kettering Tower (and the music and gallery things inside). This wasn’t so successful because it crowded the sidewalk. Time for some orange cones to temporarily narrow the street, opening space for the audience and pedestrians.

So this programming of things in close proximity, some with an “on-the-street” presence, created enough of a critical mass of people in a part of downtown to where this felt like more of a city festival, creating enough foot traffic and people on the street to make things interesting.

The question is how to do more of this. One thinks of the big parking on the NW corner of Jefferson & Third as a possible space...for something. More along the alley to make that a corridor from the Jefferson Street action to Courthouse Square.

Joint Programming

Urban Nights was jointly programmed with the Film Dayton film festival and A World Affair food thing. These were in the Neon and the Convention Center. In theory this is good as it brings more people into downtown at the same time. But not sure how much synergy was here as these were indoor events. Maybe different joint programming would be to do this in conjunction with an outdoor festival of some sort, like Taste of Dayton happening at Riverscape during the same time Urban Nights was going on.

Yet, in the final analyses, Jefferson Street was the highlight, along with Courthouse Square. It's time to bring back those Affairs on the Square (anyone remember those?)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Defense Earmarking for The Dayton Region

The posts on the Defense Welfare State just touched on earmarking. Considering the billion-dollar impact of the defense budget earmakring is really not that much of a big deal. But it's still interesting as a demonstration of areas of interest to local movers and shakers and the Congressional delegation.

The interesting thing is how the Dayton Development Coalition develops an earmark request that is around $500M, with most of it for non-defense programs and projects, yet the actual earmarks are nearly totally directed at defense spending.

Who's earmarking? Mike Turner, Sherrod Brown, and George Voinovich. Dave Hobson used be here, but his first-term replacement is running scared from the "GOP base" so is holding off, at least for now.

Whats notable is that one can see various combinations of earmarking, but also that Turner added two earmarks that was not on the DDC list, for Radiance Technologies to work on "Open Source Research Centers" and ATK Aerospace Structures to work "Rapid Automated Processing of Advanced Low Observables"

A substantial about was requested for new facilities, but was already included in Obama's defense budget.

A full list of defense earmarks and the defense contractor beneficiary:
The ulitmate beneficiary of advanced military technology is, of course, national security since this work ensure US technological superiority.

Incidentally the source for the data was the Dayton Daily News, which maintains a full list of the Dayton Development Coaltion and Mike Turner earmarks for 2009, inlcuding links to descriptions of the programs.

Local Reps Earmarks


Dayton Development Coalition Earmarks

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Technocratic Affluence in Greene County

This graph from the earlier posts on the Defense Welfare State is a good illustration of the growth in "technocratic" employment possibly due to defense spending and the proximity to Wright-Patterson AFB: the scientists, programmers, analysts, technicians, and engineers associated with a technologically advanced military activity:

Mapping out the numbers, from the 2000 census. One can see the obvious cluster in Beavercreek and along I-675, but also concentrations in Yellow Springs and Sugar Creek township.

Some of the other census tracts adjacent to these also have concnetrations over 7% . Wright Patterson and adjacent office park clusters are also shown.

What's mapped are old numbers, from the 2000 census. For income in Greene County since 2000 this graph of the number of tax returns in the four highest categories (adjusted gross income over $50,000) there is a remarkable rise in the number of returns over $75,000, espcially over $100,000.

Most of those $100K and up returns are in Beavercreek, nearly 40% of the county total. Which demonstrates a concentration of affluence, possibly deriving from the concentration of technical professionals in the area.

Location choice is driven, perhaps, by employment at the base and in the office clusters, also maybe by Beavercreek not having a local income tax.

Mapping out the retail centers like Fairfield Commons and vicintiy and The Greene one could see how getting leads to spending, as technocratic affluence would support a robust retail and food/drink sector in Greene County.

But one can also see how this could be a culture that probably has very little to do with Dayton or elsewhere in the metro area, except perhaps for additional location choices "south" or across the county line in exurban Miami and Clark County.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Defense Welfare State II

The civilian + military payroll pumps over $1B into the local economy. So the the geographic location of concentrations of the workforce will also be concentrations of prosperity

We can't map the off-base military with the information available at the census website, but we can, roughly, map out civilian workers by mapping "government workers" as a thematic map from American Factfinder. This would include non-military workers, too.

The map below illustrates the concentration around Wright-Patterson (red oval), but not so much around the VA (red circle). Various surrounding communties show for reference.
Taking a close-up of the eastern Greene County concentration, the census tract making up Wright Field (and the military housing on Airway Road) has 35.5% government workers, followed by census tract along Kitridge Road and Bellfontaine Pike, at 31.7% (which also has a lot of city of Dayton workers). Interestingly enough Yellow Srings has 25.2% government workers.
One can pretty clearly see the concentration of workers in Beavercreek and the countryside east and north of Fairborn. This is the payroll that is helpint to support the Fairfield Commons retail center and perhaps even the real estate expansion in the area.

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Employment Growth in Greene County

An assumption is that the PS&T sector is being supported by billion-dollar defense procurements. One can perhaps indirectly see this by the growth in sector employment in Greene County. One doesn't need a map to know this is not happening east of Xenia, that this growth is concentrated in eastern Greene County.

And one can also assume relatively high renumeration, at least for the managers and owners of PS&T establishments. This is confirmed by using the Brookings Institution Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) website, which provides reports for the number of returns filed for various income categories.

This detailed data goes back to 2000 and ends at 2006, so one has seven years of data points. Graphing out the top four income categories on can see how Beavercreek is becoming more and more affluent, with increasing growth in the very top income category. Returns for the >$100K category increased by over 1,100 between 2000 and 2006., and somewhat less robust growth in the $75K to $99K group.

Perhaps an indication of how defense spending is helping to establish an affluent society in eastern Greene County, particularly if discretionary spending is moslty within the county.

Veterans Benefits

Mapping out the veterans as a % of the population; there's a lot more and they overlap the government workers somewhat. It is possible to be a veteran and also a government worker.

In this case the close up shows percentages by tract. One can see parts of Fairborn, Huber Heights, New Carlisle, Medway, Enon, Beavercreek, and especially the southern part of Riverside as the big concentrations. Probably not unexpected: Yellow Springs has a lower % the than surrounding exurban area.

But the largest, 44.7%, is the tract that has the VA, the old Soldiers Home.

Veterans benefits are largely payments to veterans with service-connected disabilities, in other words either war casualites or injured on-duty. One can see an upward trend turing the Iraq-Afghanistan War years, with a big jump in 2007.

The "other" category are mostly other types of payments, mostly survivors benefits, but also a category for non-service connected disabilities.
There is also a small collection of programs tha provide other types of benefits or services, like money to modify houses for disabled veterans (accessibility for the disabled), modfication of cars and vehicles so disabled veterans can drive, educational aid, vocational training, and similar things.

Although veterans benefits are fairly small in the grand scheme of local defense-related spending, the money is still pretty large, topping $100M in recent years.

The Defense Welfare State: In It's Own Place

Mapping out the distribution of veterans and especially government workers its pretty clear that the Defense Welfare State is pretty much concentrated east of Dayton, mostly in Greene County. One can infer this is also the case with technical professionals working in nominally private sector firms doing a lot of defense contracting.

Studying the government worker map its pretty clear that there very low percentages in the hip urban areas frequently mentioned in the local blogosphere: South Park, Oregon, Downtown, the UD area. The one somewhat equivilant suburban area, Yellow Springs, is by far more popular than urban Dayton. The downtown number might be changing as this census data predates the big loft/apartment boom in the center city.

Government employment outside of Eastern Greene County is concentrated in the Salem Avenue Corridor, and these might be government workers for Dayton as well as for the VA and base. But it does indicate that perhaps defense employment and might be providing a floor to neighborhood economies in predominantly black areas within Dayton.

Yet the strong suburban orientation in government work, coupled with the veterans' geography, sort of indicate a figure in the carpet, a world that really is it's own place, economically and sociologically. Perhaps not as connected to Dayton as one would like to think.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Defense Welfare State

Like in that Starship Troopers movie, service guarantees the Defense Welfare State.

The concept of the welfare state is foreign in the use, and the term is a pejorative. Since Daytonlogy has a social-democratic metapolitcs, the welfare state is, at this blog, a positive. A way of providing social insurance against the vagaries of the economy.
In our area defense spending provides both social insurance to military, civilians, and veterans, (via Wright-Patterson AFB and the Veterans Administration complex on Gettysburg Avenue), but is signifigant enough to provide a "floor" to the local economy, mitigating disruptions caused by the business cycle and the decline in manufacturing.

The Consolidated Federal Funds Report shows defense related spending for 2007 (and past years to 1993) as around 26% of spending. But it fails to account for civilian retirement, veterans benefits, and and other smaller programs. Adding these, called here "Defense +", one comes up with 33% of all Federal spending in the metropolitan area.

Drilling down into that 33%, one can see procurements account for a full 40% of defense spending. This includes procuring services from the R&D and IT contractors out on I-675 in Greene County as well as the more mundane things like construction contracts and supplies. Another 33% is for military and civilian payroll.

In raw numbers, for 2007, there was $3B in defense spending in the metro area.

The following is not adjusted for inflation, but one can see some patterns, with more growth during the Bush years due, perhaps, to the post 9-11 war on terror (peaking at $3.2B), and stagnation and decline in spending during the Clinton era.

Opening up the "other category" are two programs that dont fit well in the other broad groups. Impact Aid is aid to local school districts because they have to teach the additional students from military families (the impact of having a military installation in or near a school district).

AVFEA is apparently an education program for military members.

Defense procurement probably has a great indirect, difficult-to-measure impact on the area, as the economic impact is the purchase of goods and services, showing up in the economy as wages and salaries for the staff of defense contractors of various sorts, as well as purchase of supplies and equipment by these contractors. Again one can see the plateau in the Clinton era, and a jump in the Bush years.
There are two programs that appear in the funds report for research, here aggregated into a R&D grants category. Presumably these are going to contractors or universities. One can note a big jump in this category after Mike Turner entered Congress. Perhaps one is seeing some earmark activity here? In any case it's a noticeable jump.

A closer look at the payroll line. During the 1990s the Defense Electronic Supply Center (DESC)(AKA Gentile Air Force Station) was closed via BRAC. This, along with Clinton-era cuts, contributed to a noticeable dip in payroll, enough to offset the masking effects of cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments for the remainder of the workforce.

Then a consistent ramp-up during the Bush era, probably showing the effects of inflation and COLAs as the Federal workforce in the metro area was not increasing during this time.

Fortunately the cuts in the 1990s happened during "good times" of relatively high employment in the metro area.

Since funds report provides this annual payroll number, we can compare it with other economic sectors in the Dayton region, using the County Business Patterns data for the Dayton MSA. The most recent year for County Business Patterns is 2006, so lets use that year.

The civilian + military payroll shown here in blue, next to other categories (including non-defense payroll).

Manufacturing is contributes the most payroll, followed by health care and social services. Then comes the Professional, Scientific, and Technical (or PS&T) category. The defense payroll is the fourth. And, adding the non-defense Federal category, the total Federal payroll almost equals the PS&T category. An impressive demonstration of the Federal role in the economy, just by payroll.

And something to keep in mind if the Manufacturing sector was in rapid decline starting in 2007, as Federal payroll would be a category insulated from the vagaries of the economy. Also note that Federal spending--defense + nondefense-- is, along with Manufacturing, the one sector that is probably brining in the most money from outside the region (in the Feds case via taxes).

An example of this is the PS&T sector. Adding defense on top of it and one equals Manufacturing as the largest aggregate payroll sector in the region (and may well be surpassing it by now).

A key point here is the $1.4B in procurements and $10M in R&D grants could be driving some portion of the Professional, Scientific, & Technical category via the miltary contracting for engineering, consulting, scientific and IT services. It would be a challenge to measure this with any degree of accuracy based on public sources.

Next, a look some possible geographical impacts and veterans benefits spending.