Explore the Regional Barometer
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What is the Regional Barometer?
The Regional Barometer is an open data tool that provides a snapshot of data from early 2020. You can use it to view facts and figures, access related stories, research and reports, and download data for additional analysis.
Why was the Regional Barometer created?
Metro’s policymaking and investment strategies are guided by a set of six desired outcomes for greater Portland: strong and dynamic communities, economic opportunity and prosperity, safe and reliable ways to get around, leadership on addressing climate change, clean air and water and racial equity as the region grows. Metro recognizes the need to be open and transparent about how it makes decisions to pursue these goals and keeps accountable to them. The Regional Barometer helps answer these needs by making the data that informs policy and investment decisions accessible in one place.
By offering information on many aspects of greater Portland’s communities, the Regional Barometer helps support the people working to better understand and strengthen those communities – from the naturalist studying traffic corridor biodiversity, to the journalist researching income inequality in Clackamas County – to you. Metro is committed to keeping this tool easy to access, inclusive and evolving to meet community needs.
About the data – and a note on data interpretation
Metro is committed to providing data that are accurate. In addition to its own resources, Metro relies on federal and state government and agency partners to collect, verify and update data. These public agencies track food, health, education and other topics. Sources are cited on each page.
Metro recognizes that it is providing this data without deep context or analysis of cause and effect, and asks users to approach the information thoughtfully. For instance, correlations between data sets can easily be mistaken for causal relationships. A common example of this mistake is the strong correlation between ice cream consumption and swimming. Despite what the data shows, common sense tells us that swimming doesn’t increase ice cream consumption. The two events coincide due to hot weather but have no causal connection. Similarly, when looking at data on the Regional Barometer, one might guess that fewer crashes in the past were the result of a transportation safety campaign, while the actual reason was that people drove less after the 2007 Recession. Overall, the reader should remember that some topics have been studied more than others and topics with less reliable data should be approached more tentatively.
Additionally, quantitative data speaks to observable conditions without a historic context. Data categorized by race or ethnicity and interpreted in isolation could erase the cause and impacts of multigenerational institutional racism and the biases held by those with political and economic power. Racial categories in some data sets follow historically assigned lines based on broad, often biased, categories that can obscure the lived experience of different communities. Finally, it’s worth remembering that the scientists, researchers and analysts who produce data are all people, too – people that experience the world through cultural frameworks that shape the way they design, execute and interpret studies.
Data is the beginning of a policy conversation. It can shine a light on issues and inequities. But solutions must consider past and present policies and governmental practices – including how and whom those benefited and excluded; economic and social pressures and impacts; and the broader values, visions and goals of all of the people affected.
Recognizing that data collection is constantly evolving and may not be perfect or tell the whole story, Metro has included some context to help clarify trends and provide background, especially in relation to racial inequities and disparities. In addition, the Regional Barometer includes links to related reports and other relevant information where possible. This will be an ongoing process so look for more updates over time.
How does the tool work?
A dropdown menu shows subtopics within each of the six main topic areas. Click on All Metrics in the menu bar to see how the information is organized on the site – and use the hyperlinks to go straight to specific graphs and maps. The search function is limited to actual data sets.
This site offers different levels of interactivity. Float your cursor over bar charts and line graphs to see actual data points. When exploring a map, use the layers function to remove or add information, such as city names and arterials. For maps showing equity focus areas that include three communities - communities of color, limited English proficiency communities and low-income communities – use the layers to view communities separately. Click on census tracts within maps to view information specific to that tract.
Users can download any of the 350+ data sets that inform the graphs and maps. Use the search function to find specific data sets or scroll to the bottom of any subtopic page to “Get the Data” for the graphs and maps on that page.
How was the tool created?
The Regional Barometer was created through a collaborative process that included dozens of internal and external stakeholders and subject matter experts, focusing on principles of usefulness, consistency, selectiveness, public service and public trust. Following these principles, Metro chose reliable and frequently updated data, focusing on measures that most directly capture the state of the region. Reflecting its commitment to advancing racial equity in greater Portland, Metro prioritized measures that demonstrate inequities in physical, economic and social determinants of health affected by public systems and structures.
The Regional Barometer will continue to evolve as new sources of data are established, continued community feedback is considered and new issues or concerns arise in the region.