May 1, 2019 | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
By Matt Dotray
Despite the growing economy and the low unemployment we all hear about, Lubbock still has significant economic and safety concerns, as outlined in the Lubbock Area United Way’s annual Community Status Report.
The Lubbock Area United Way released its 20th annual report on Wednesday, and the most striking information has to do with child safety and household income - issues the A-J will explore in an upcoming series coming this summer.
Lubbock County has seen nearly double the state average of child abuse cases. In 2018, Lubbock County had 1,126 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect, according to the report, and 95 percent of the victims were under the age of seven. The report states Voice of Hope served 396 primary sexual assault survivors in 2018 — of those, 37 were confirmed cases of sex trafficking, and 34 percent were victims under 18-years-old.
The annual Community Status Report tracks key demographic, education, economic, health and safety indicators in Lubbock County. The report is completed in collaboration with many of the area’s public institutions and nonprofit groups. According to a news release, the report is used to bring Lubbock’s big issues to light, and is used to ensure funds are being directed to the most significant needs.
The report shows Lubbock County continues to have rates above the state average for rape, aggravated assault, family violence and child abuse.
In 2017, Lubbock County had a reported 1,246 domestic violence cases per 100,000 people, while the rest of the state had an average of 690 cases per the same amount of people. Last year, Women’s Protective Services served 955 adult females and 1,015 children in Lubbock County.
This year’s report takes a deeper look at household income, and what it found was that nearly half of Lubbock households live below the basic cost of living.
The report features a group named ALICE (an acronym for Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), which are families living with incomes above the federal poverty line, but below the level to afford basic household necessities like food, rent, child care and transportation costs.
The median household income in Lubbock County is close to $49,000 a year, less than the state average of $56,500. The number of households living in poverty is 19 percent, and the number of households in this ALICE category is 23 percent, meaning 45 percent of households in Lubbock County aren’t able to or struggle to afford basic necessities.
All this while Lubbock has an unemployment rate of only 3.9 percent, so wages are lagging behind.