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A. Economic Quality of Life

Tulsa Benchmarks

Measures of economic quality of life include the Cost of Living Index, which tells how expensive it is to live in a city compared to the national average. The second measure, the Housing Opportunity Index, attempts to capture the relative affordability of home ownership. Finally, the Poverty Status presents the percentage of each local population living on less than 200% of the U.S. poverty level. Higher percentages indicate that the local population has less discretionary income and will live a more economically-modest lifestyle.

 

Cost of Living Index

The Cost of Living Index is measured by the local cost to live expressed as a percentage of the national average reported by the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association (ACCRA). This is an index which considers only basic necessities for living, including food, shelter, and clothing. Since 2011, Tulsa has seen a decline in the percentage from 90.0% in 2011 to 88.5% in 2015. Our cost of living is second lowest among our competitors, and over three percentage points below the population mean of 93.1%.

From 2011 to 2015, Tulsa’s cost of living decreased by 1.5% compared to the national average, while the competitor average went up by 0.2%. Six metropolitan areas saw their relative percentage increase with Ft. Worth the largest change, up 9.7%.  Six decreased with Shreveport the largest change, down 8.9%.

Cost of Living Index
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 5-yr Avg. Δ in %
1 Memphis 85.9% 86.0% 85.4% 85.6% 84.5% 85.5% -1.4%
2 Tulsa 90.0% 89.2% 88.3% 88.7% 86.1% 88.5% -3.9%%
Competitor Mean 92.9% 93.9% 93.0% 93.2% 93.0% 93.2% 0.0%
11 Austin 92.7% 95.6% 93.2% 94.6% 96.0% 94.4% 3.3%
12 Fort Worth 93.1% 91.4% 97.4% 99.7% 102.8% 96.9% 9.7%

Cost of Living Index
Appendix A 1.0

 

Housing Opportunity Index

The Housing Opportunity Index measures the percentage of homes considered affordable by a family earning the local median income. In the United States, the commonly accepted guideline for housing affordability is a housing cost that does not exceed 30% of a household’s gross income. Housing costs considered in this guideline generally include taxes and insurance for owners, and usually include utility costs. When the monthly carrying costs of a home exceeds 30-35% of household income, the housing is considered unaffordable for that household. Tulsa’s value for 2015 was 76.5%. Almost three-fourths of area houses are affordable.

The five-year trend for 2011 to 2015 shows Tulsa’s housing affordability increasing at a fairly steady rate. Tulsa remains in the upper half of the set for housing affordability, and averaged second for the time period.

Housing Opportunity Index
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 5-yr Avg Δ in %
1 Wichita 70.7% 72.1% 78.0% 76.1% 79.3% 75.2% 8.6%
2 Kansas City 67.9% 69.5% 75.4% 75.9% 78.2% 73.4% 10.3%
5 Tulsa 70.6% 71.8% 75.5% 75.1% 76.5% 73.9% 5.9%
Competitor Mean 68.1% 69.7% 73.8% 73.9% 75.0% 71.9% 7.0%
11 Memphis 62.0% 64.0% 70.2% 68.6% 71.8% 67.3% 9.8%
12 Albuquerque 63.8% 65.4% 66.7% 67.5% 67.2% 66.1% 3.4%

Housing Opportunity Index
Appendix A 2.0

 

Poverty Status

Poverty Status is measured by the number of people in each region living below 200% of the federal poverty level. This measure does not vary based on the local Cost of Living Index, as the poverty level is a national average and is thus the same for all cities.

Since 2011, Tulsa has shown fluctuations in the poverty status, but has consistently exceeded the peer average. As of 2015, Tulsa had the eighth highest percentage of the group of 12 with a poverty status level of 35.3%, close to 1.4% over the mean.

Considering Tulsa and the 11 regional competitors for the five-year trend, all experienced a decline in the percent of the population earning less than 200% of poverty, but all but three competitors had greater declines than Tulsa.

Quality of Life: Below 200% of the Poverty Level
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 5-yr Avg. Δ in %
1 Omaha 29.10% 28.90% 29.60% 29.00% 28.56% 29.03% -0.54%
2 Kansas City 30.30% 29.50% 29.50% 29.34% 29.09% 29.55% -1.21%
Competitor Mean 35.29% 34.50% 34.52% 34.42% 33.94% 34.53% -1.35%
8 Tulsa 36.40% 33.30% 35.70% 35.58% 35.31% 35.26% -1.09%
11 Albuquerque 41.30% 38.90% 39.20% 38.96% 39.33% 39.54% -1.97%
12 Memphis 40.40% 40.20% 40.50% 40.53% 40.30% 40.39% -0.10%

Quality of Life - Poverty
Appendix A 3.1

Medical Care

Two quality of life variables related to health care are: Persons per Medical Professional; and Percent of Population Eligible for Public Health Coverage.  The former addresses the availability of health care services in the metropolitan area and the latter is a proxy for a safety blanket.

With over 41 persons per medical doctor and other highly educated medical professionals, Tulsa is tenth, well above both the mean and median.  This suggests a significant shortage of medical professionals in the metropolitan area.

People per Medical Professional
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 5-yr Avg % Δ
1 Little Rock 27.5 26.7 26.4 26.9 26.7 26.8 5.76%
2 Shreveport 33.4 33.0 33.4 32.9 30.0 32.5 11.05%
Competitor Mean 37.4 36.7 36.4 36.4 35.4 36.4 9.41%
10 Tulsa 39.7 39.0 39.8 41.1 41.6 40.2 -0.76%
11 Fort Worth 51.6 50.7 47.6 49.4 45.5 48.9 21.55%
12 Austin 51.4 50.3 49.9 50.1 47.7 49.9 21.43%

People per Medical Professional
Given Tulsa has more of its population below 200% of the poverty level than most of the competitors, it should not be a surprise that we are above average (fifth) in the percentage of our population eligible for public health support.  Many of these people are being served by medical professionals at Veterans Administration facilities and Native American health clinics.  This higher coverage improves the quality of life in the area.

Violent Crime per 100,000

Tulsa’s number of violent crimes per 100,000 nearly matches the median of our competitive set. The large difference between Tulsa and the higher crime metropolitan areas allows for some comfort, however; the gap between Tulsa and Austin’s low crime numbers presents a challenge.

Violent crimes per 100,000
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 5-yr Avg % Δ
1 Austin 287.1 292.7 271.3 290.9 287.7 285.9 0.21%
2 Omaha 383.8 407.1 387.4 364.9 325.6 373.8 -15.16%
6 Tulsa 554.1 542.7 516.8 461.0 500.8 518.7 -9.62%
Competitor Mean 553.8 547.6 539.6 562.7 568.8 549.5 1.70%
11 Albuquerque 662.0 645.1 742.3 740.3 792.6 716.5 19.73%
12 Memphis 980.4 1056.8 993.4 1033.5 1038.0 1020.4 5.88%

Violent Crimes
Appendix A 4.0

 

Summary

The economic quality of life for Tulsa shows strength through its low Cost of Living Index and relatively high Housing Opportunity Index. However, given Tulsa’s slightly higher Poverty Status measure, those lower costs of living and housing are critical for the 35.3% of the population living below the 200% poverty threshold.