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Monday, September 10, 2007

Evansville Population Study---the analysis--the perils of prophecy---OpEd

In the population study that was included in the Plunkett Raysich report by Evansville Schools and listed above on the Observer, they make the statement that their predictions of future population as well as future enrollment are more accurate in the near term than in the years out farther. This is a usual caution in all such reports.

The amazing thing is that in respect to population as well as enrollment, they were WRONG on BOTH counts---and for the very FIRST year of the prediction. In the past year we moved from population 4660 to 4666 and for the enrollment in Evansville Schools we showed a enrollment DECLINE. This is clearly in contradiction to all the graphs that show a continuation of the past rise of enrollment.

So--whether one would attempt to predict the future by looking at the past population or by looking at the past housing starts---both methods are filled with error possibilities---the future starts now, and the past provides no guarantees. Factors such as OPEN ENROLLMENT are growing in importance. The lack of virtual schooling options is one factor in the loss of students for the Evansville School district. The nationwide crash of the real estate market is of course another.

I would rather look at JOBS as a predictor of prosperity. I would guess that in job creation and business creation area, we have been going backward. That being said, one must also say that there will be an impact from the coming biodiesel JOBS in Evansville, although with a housing stock available for sale of 200, there is plenty of stock available for future residents. However, with the possible additional related economic growth related to the biodiesel core business, it is unclear how much demand for schools or housing will be created. I am not sure of the equation here. But then. The one thing we DO KNOW------ The equation of the population study that we do have is not an accurate predictor.

Stay tuned.

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