Gilbert’s population rose nearly six percent and residents are making more money, but they are generally less educated, according to some new data compiled in the town’s 2009 Community Profile.
Town officials said the latest information regarding educational attainment is no reason for concern because it was taken from a different source than last year.
According to the 2009 profile, the town’s median household income jumped nearly 12 percent from $76,171 in the 2008 profile to $84,967 in 2009, yet fewer residents hold college degrees and high school diplomas.
For example, 39.5 percent of the town’s population had four-year college educations or more, according to figures in the 2008 profile. That figure decreased to roughly 34.6 percent in the new profile.
But Dan Henderson, Gilbert’s business development manager, said the town used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in 2008, numbers that normally lag. This year, it used figures from a private company called Claritas because it has more up to date information.
The switch in sources explains the apparent drop in degree holders, he said.
Those possessing bachelor degrees and advanced degrees actually increased when comparing Claritas data from 2007 to its data in 2008. The same goes for ACS data, Henderson said. Both entities also show an increases in median household income.
“In a growth community, using the most up to date demographic information is important in trying to articulate Gilbert’s profile,” Henderson said.
The annual profile, the chief marketing tool used to promote commercial investment, also shows a jump in the town’s civilian workforce from 87,507 in the 2008 profile to 116,467 in the 2009 profile.
Since the information presented is the based on the most current data available, which may be years old in some cases, Gilbert town manager George Pettit said the information isn’t necessarily a reflection of the current Gilbert.
Some items included in 2008’s profile were left out of the new version, including housing construction starts and worker distribution across industries.
Pettit said the inclusion of data depends on whether the government agencies that collect them have updated the information.
Henderson said the new profile contains some new elements, such as a greater emphasis on the town’s targeted industry sectors, including life sciences, aerospace, and clean and renewable energy.
The town also expanded information on Gilbert’s workforce and local and state policy incentives available to existing and relocating businesses.