My Charlie Baker Stats
With state elections approaching in November, I thought I’d look at the data of some of the issues I care about, trended over the last 4 years under Charlie Baker.
Total health care expenditures, public and private combined, increased 10.7% during Baker’s term, with per-capita costs rising $860 in 3 years.
“[Commercial insurance] members and employers saw cost-sharing and premium obligations rise faster than the benchmark, inflation, and wages.”
Quality: Readmission rates
Readmission rates, or how often someone discharged from a hospital be readmitted within 30 days, is a key indicator of how well our health system takes care of us. After slight improvements during the Patrick administration, these largely-preventable readmissions under Baker are inching back up.
After steady decreases in residents without health insurance, the ranks of the uninsured are rising again.
It’s hard to live in Massachusetts and not have family members affected by the opioid crisis. After a serious increase in opioid deaths during Baker’s second year in office, there was a slight dip in 2017, but 2018 isn’t looking much better.
Source: Data Brief: Opioid‐Related Overdose Deaths Among Massachusetts Residents, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
We can also look at opioid-related emergency incidents: the trend continues to increase.
Source: MA Opioid-Related EMS Incidents 2013-2017, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
All the visualizations below are from data provided by the MBTA, which is limited in both what they measure and the months for which data is available.
Commuter Rail Reliability
6 out of 15 lines have worse performance in 2018 than in 2016. 13 out of 15 still do not meet 90% reliability, what I’d call “only late to work once every two weeks.” (Higher numbers are better.)
Source: MBTA reliability data
The only MBTA data available for the subway is an estimate of how many people “wait too long” for a train to arrive at each station, each day. (This, of course, doesn’t capture my most frustrating criticism: the trains which arrive and are so full that I can’t get on—but it’s something.)
After slight improvements in 2017, wait times are increasing again in 2018. The Red Line is worse today than in 2016. The Green Line, despite any improvement,is still way behind the other lines. (Lower numbers are better.)
Source: MBTA reliability data
Key Bus Route Reliability
Buses, like commuter rail, are measured by on-time percentage at each stop. Only 3 lines had worse reliability in 2018 compared to 2016, but only two key routes reach even 80% reliability. The Globe created a great interactive piece about the continuing agony of the 111 bus.
Source: MBTA reliability data
Structurally deficient bridges
In August, the Globe reported on the 473 bridges rated in “poor” condition in Massachusetts. Using both the FHA’s “poor” and “structurally deficient” classifications, the trends below are not improving.
Average price of a single-family home
I often joke that Skokie, IL is Boston’s affordable western suburb, given the number of our friends who have resettled there from Massachusetts in search of modest family housing. Is it getting any easier to buy a house? Home prices that continue to rise, while median income drops, suggests not.
Source: Warren Group press releases, 2015-2018
If we look at the longer historical trend in House Price Index, we may be on our way to another housing bubble.
Real median household income
My sense is that politicians’ economic measures too often describe how well businesses or investors are doing, rather than average workers. Real median income takes into account the cost of living and inflation. After a couple years of income gains, we saw a drop last year in median income.
Even a rising average incomes mean little if the overwhelming share of that money stays among the top earners. Boston continues to have considerably higher income inequality than the rest of the state, and it continues to rise. Most other counties also saw rising income inequality—with Barnstable, Plymouth, and Middlesex instead showing some improvement.
Source: US Census via FRED
In-state tuition: UMass Amherst
During Baker’s term, annual tuition has increased $2,629 and room & board has increased $1,669—almost 18% since 2014.
Source: Undergraduate Student Charges: Tuition, Required Fees, and Room and Board Expenses, Academic Years 1983-84 through 2017-18, University of Massachusetts Amherst
In-state tuition: UMass Boston
UMass Boston’s annual tuition saw a similar 18% jump in Baker’s term, up $2,201.
Source: UMass Boston At A Glance 2014-2018
State Police crisis
As the Globe has covered extensively, the State Police has been immersed in scandal over payroll fraud, overtime theft, falsified reports, and racism for the last three years. I wanted to get a sense for whether there was any end in sight, so I reorganized the Globe’s data into a timeline. (Hover for a description, click for the underlying news article.)
I’d seen headlines about rising hate crimes in Massachusetts since Trump declared his candidacy in 2015. I pulled out data for hate crimes perpetrated against those targeted by Trump and his supporters. Sure enough, the trend is there (2017 data not available yet). Could fiercer critique of the White House from the State House help this problem?
Source: MA EOPSS Hate Crime Report
Per capita hate crimes
Massachusetts and Washington lead the nation in hate crimes per capita. (Only the 20 highest-offending states shown for legibility.)
Source: FBI 2016 Hate Crime Statistics
Town participation in hate crime reporting
The number of towns who do not report hate crime data, or report zero hate crimes, is also worrisome: it is statistically unlikely, especially in large communities, that hate crimes don’t exist. What are we doing to improve the collection of this critical data?
Source: “Most Mass. agencies report no hate crimes, but is it accurate?”, Boston Globe
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading. If there’s any mistaken data, I apologize and please let me know – this is merely an after-hours project! If you have your own state performance visualizations or new data to share, please post a link in the comments below, or tweet @jonabbett.