MilitaryTowns.com - Your Best Source Of Information On Your Next Duty Station
 

Understanding the MilitaryTowns.com rating system...

How to understand the ratings:

The data compiled for our web site represents averages to be used for comparing military towns against one another.  Obviously each town will have people who make more and make less than the stated average annual income for instance.  So do not assume that your spouse will make that amount if you accept orders to that town.  Rather, you should ask:  “Is this town’s average better than another town I am being offered orders to?”

The data is presented in a manner so that with a glance, you can choose that which is of interest to you and then compare that with the data from other towns you may be considering accepting orders to.  We highly recommend that you first look at the town which you are currently serving in so that you will have something to reference your future town to.

Generally, data has been compiled for the County/Counties in which a military presence is being tracked.  For instance, rather than gather data about Jacksonville, FL we have assembled data about Duval County, Florida. 

For areas where there was no data, we looked for a nearby comparable city or county for which data did exist.  As an example, we used Mobile, AL weather data (from NOAA) for the Mississippi Gulf Coast since it is within 100 miles and on the same coastline and thus can be expected to share the same general weather patterns.

For areas where there was no comparable city or county, we have put N/A for Not Available.  Hopefully data will come available in the future.  The sources for our current data are provided below.

It should be noted that this data is a compilation from many public and private sources; that there has been value added to the public data and as such none of the data can be reprinted or reproduced in whole or part for any use other than personal use without the express written permission of MilitaryTowns.com .

People

Population:  2000 Census estimates

Population density:  2000 Census estimates divided by the 1990 square miles of the area named

% of Population military or Dependents.  Very rough estimate based on DOD and Census data.

% College Educated: 2000 Census figures

% HS Diploma:  2000 Census figures

Ethnic Composition:  2000 Census data-- White/Black/Asian-American/Native American/Hispanic.  The Hispanic population is included in the first four as well.  For example, someone could claim to be white AND Hispanic.

Weather:  Where NOAA data was not available, some state agency data was used

Air pollution: (Lower scores are better) Environmental Protection Agency data (Pollution Standards Index) Median /90th Percentile/Maximum for 1998

Rainfall: NOAA Figures (30 year average)

Snowfall: NOAA Figures (30 year average)

Avg Winter Temp:  Average Jan. HIGH temperature NOAA Figures (30 year average)

Avg Summer Temp: Average July HIGH temperature NOAA figures (30 year average)

# of Sunny days:  Number of Clear days plus number of Partly Cloudy days-- NOAA figures (if it has a * beside it, then the actual count was not available, so the inverse of the annual chance of precipitation percentage minus 10 percent was used)

Economic

Military Cost of Living: (Lower scores are better) 4th Qtr 1998 data from ACCRA as published in the Statistical Abstract of the United States.  This data has been refined by MilitaryTowns.com to reflect variable military BAH rates for each area as well as the fixed costs of military healthcare.  You can use this to compare costs of living in each locality including your current one.  A score above 100 means that when compared to a national average, this area’s costs are higher than that average.  Below 100 means costs are less. Subscription information and answers to frequently asked questions about the ACCRA Index may be obtained at their web site.

Spousal Job Opportunity:  (Higher score is better) This number is a factor that represents the likelihood of finding employment in a given town.  The higher the factor the easier employment should be.  This data was collected by MilitaryTowns.com staff in the following manner:  We counted the number of column inches of each local paper’s employment ads divided by that paper’s circulation and multiplied by 1000.  We used the same date for all papers.

Annual Pay per Worker: (Higher pay is better) Bureau of Labor Statistics data (average for 1998)

Unemployment Rate: (Lower unemployment is better) Bureau of Labor Statistics data (average for 2003)

State Income Tax Rate: (Lower income tax is better) 2003 Data compiled by the Federation of Tax Administrators

State Sales Tax Rate: (Lower sales tax is better) 2003 Data compiled by the Federation of Tax Administrators

Social 

Schools: (Higher score is better) Because there is no national ranking system available, we chose to judge the quality of an area’s public schools by the percentage of area school children enrolled in them (based on 1990 Census data).  While not a perfect measure of the quality of schools, it is indicative of how the local residents view their public schools.  The lower the number, the more people who think that private schools are worth the added cost of sending their children to them.  This can create a self-fulfilling prophesy if because many parents send their children to private schools, public schools are then denied the money needed to improve.  The average military town sends 94% of its students to public schools.  Any town where that number is below 90% and you will need to pay special attention to your children’s educational needs (i.e. make sure you buy or rent a home in an area with the best schools possible, or plan to put your children in private schools if possible).

Colleges within 30/60 miles: (Higher number is better) The first number is the number of 4-year colleges with more than 800 full-time undergraduate students that are within a 30 mile radius.  The second number is the number of colleges within a 60 mile radius.  While most bases have on base college programs, this number allows you to see how an area’s off-base educational opportunities compare.  800 students was chosen as the minimum to ensure that a college was large enough to offer a wide array of classes.  Some exceptions have been made where appropriate.

Graduate Schools within 30/60 miles: (Higher number is better) The first number is the number of grad schools with more than 800 full-time undergraduate students that are within a 30 mile radius.  The second number is the number of grad schools within a 60 mile radius.  While most bases have on base college programs, this number allows you to see how an area’s off-base educational opportunities compare.  800 students was chosen as the minimum to ensure that a college was large enough to offer a wide array of classes.  Undergraduate students were counted because most colleges do not offer a graduate program unless they have a strong undergraduate program in that field of study.  Some exceptions have been made where appropriate.

Transit Time: (Lower number is better) Based on 2000 Census data figures, how long does it take for someone who works outside of their home to reach the workplace?

Murder Rate and Crime Rate: (Lower number is better) Based on 2002 FBI data per 100,000 people (some towns may not have 100,000 people, but the rate is computed as though they did to provide for accurate comparisons).  The crime rate includes property and violent crimes but excludes arson.  When possible we have used the data for the metropolitan area rather than a particular suburb where a base may be located due to the fact that people will be traveling in and around the whole area, not just in that suburb.  The murder rate is given as well as the crime rate because there have been accusations that police agencies in some jurisdictions underreport crimes.  For instance, police in a large city may not investigate (or report) a house burglary if the crime occurred when no one was home, but a small town police force may investigate and report to the FBI even the smallest of crimes (theft of a bicycle for instance).   However, since we feel it is difficult to underreport a dead body, we believe that you should compare each area by BOTH of these numbers.

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