A Portrait of Sonoma County
A PORTRAIT OF SONOMA COUNTY: 2021 UPDATE
RELEASED JANUARY 26, 2022
A Portrait of Sonoma County: 2021 Update, a follow-up to our 2014 report, paints a picture of well-being and access to opportunity in Sonoma County today, identifies areas of positive change, and draws attention to both new and persistent challenges. Like the 2014 report, this edition was guided by an advisory group of Sonoma County organizations and individuals. It is part of a larger project, A Portrait of California 2021–2022, which explores well-being in the state as a whole, with a special focus on housing. Using the American Human Development Index (HDI), this report presents how Sonomans are doing on three key dimensions of well-being—a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Broken down by race and ethnicity, by gender, and by census tract, the index shows how communities across Sonoma County are faring relative to one another and to the state and country as a whole.
The severe wildfire seasons of recent years coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic altered aspects of Sonoma County residents’ lives almost beyond recognition, leading to displacement, job loss, educational disruption, significant mental health challenges, and increased deaths due not just to the coronavirus but also to drug overdose. But some of the challenges of 2021 echo those of 2014: an even worse affordable-housing shortage, economic insecurity, and disproportionate harm falling on communities of color. Though the years since the publication of the 2014 report saw heartening improvement in some indicators of well-being and a narrowing of the gaps between different places and populations, including more people with health insurance and fewer people living in poverty, deep-rooted challenges and new problems alike demand attention and action.
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Sonoma County’s HDI score is 6.19 out of a possible total of 10, up from 5.42 in 2012. This score is well above the United States’ HDI score of 5.33 and the California HDI score of 5.85. Sonoma’s HDI lead over California’s is primarily due to high Health and Education Index scores; median earnings in Sonoma, $40,531, are just slightly higher than the Californian median of $39,528. Overall, Sonoma residents can expect to live 82.2 years—one year longer than the statewide life expectancy—and attain high school, college, and graduate school degrees at higher rates than is typical in California. Rankings on the American Human Development Index are provided by race and ethnicity, by gender, and by census tract.
- The average life expectancy in Sonoma County is 82.2 years, 1.2 years longer than the state average.
- Since 2014, life expectancy in Sonoma County has increased by 1.2 years, jumping ahead of the state as a whole, which has seen its life expectancy drop by 0.2 years.
- Among census tracts, life expectancy in Sonoma County ranges from 73.2 years in Burbank Gardens (Santa Rosa) to 86.8 years in Old Healdsburg, a difference of over thirteen years.
- Despite Sonoma’s high educational attainment, there are significant disparities in degree attainment by census tract. In Sea Ranch/Timber Cove, six in ten adults 25 years and older hold bachelor’s degrees, whereas in Sheppard just over one in ten do.
- These educational disparities exist not only among geographies but also along racial lines. Only 63.8 percent of Latino Sonoma residents hold a high school diploma, as opposed to 96.0 percent of white residents. Latino residents have substantially lower rates of degree attainment than Sonoma residents of any other race. These disparities are largely due to the limited opportunities Latino immigrants had to complete their educations in their home countries. However, Latino youth are enrolled in school at rates similar to the county average: 77.1 percent are enrolled; the county average is 78.4 percent.
- Native Americans have particularly high rates of school enrollment—94.8 percent of Native American children and young people between the ages of 3 and 24 are enrolled in school. Black residents have the lowest rate of school enrollment, 69.3 percent.
- Overall, Sonoma County residents take home $1,000 more annually than the typical resident of California. Since the 2014 report, the earnings of Sonoma County residents have increased by about $7,000 (adjusted for inflation).
- Despite having higher Education Index scores, women earn much less than men, with men taking home $11,500 more than women in Sonoma County. This gap has widened since the last report, when men in Sonoma made $8,500 more than women. For all racial and ethnic groups except for Native Americans, men earn more than women.
- In Sonoma County, white residents earn over $15,000 more than Latino, Native American, and NHOPI residents.
- Among census tracts, median earnings range from $16,500 in the Rohnert Park B/C/R Section to $72,400 in East Bennett Valley (Santa Rosa).
In early 2022, the organizations that have spearheaded this project will lead a process of community engagement with a view to developing an Agenda for Action to guide the county’s collective work over the next five years. This agenda, once completed, will become part of this report.
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.
Commissioned 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. A Spanish translation is also available via this link: Un Retrato Del Condado De Sonoma.
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. Over ninety public and private sectors advocates have 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: email@example.com
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