15 Community Health Indicators updated with new data


Public Health – Seattle and King County just updated 15 Community Health Indicators with data from the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Communities Survey.  The indicators cover commute modes, educational attainment, economic security, and housing security, plus 3 topics that are especially relevant for immigrant and refugee communities (nativity, English proficiency, and language spoken at home).


 Here’s a sample of headline findings:

 Commuting to work

  • Since 2005, commuting via public transit and walking have increased statewide, in Seattle, outside Seattle, and in King County overall.

  • In 2016, Sound Transit expanded its Link light rail service to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington. At the same time, bicycle commuting in Seattle and King County stopped what had been a steady increase.

 Educational attainment

  • While the proportion of King County adults with less than a bachelor’s degree continues to decline, this varies by location, race/ethnicity, age, poverty, and gender. In 2017, more than half of King County adults age 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree.

  • Despite the county’s high proportion of college-educated adults, 3 in 10 King County Latinos did not have a high school diploma in 2017. There were also significant differences by location and poverty level. 

 English language

  • In 2017, more than half a million King County residents age 5 and older (28.3%) spoke a language other than English at home.  Since 2005, this trend has increased in King County overall and in King County outside Seattle. In Seattle, however, the proportion of residents speaking a language other than English at home has declined since 2011. 3 out of 4 Asians and 2 out of 3 Latinos report speaking a language other than English at home.

  • Speaking a language other than English at home varies by location, from more than half of the populations of Central Bellevue and SeaTac/Tukwila to only 7.1% of Vashon Island residents.


 The updates come with some new visualization features, including:

  • New race/ethnicity toggle that enables users to see Hispanic as an ethnicity or Hispanic as a race. This can make a big difference when looking at data for traditionally small populations.  For example, switching from “Hispanic as Race” to “Hispanic as Ethnicity” almost doubles the proportion of American Indian/Alaska Natives (AIAN) who speak a language other than English at home.

  • Inclusion, on the summary page, of the estimated total population number in addition to the population percentage for the most recent single year of data.  For example, the 22.1% of 2017 King County residents who were born outside the United States represents an estimated 508,000 individuals.

  • Incorporation of 2 new color schemes for maps: (1) a flexible diverging color scheme that uses bright colors to draw attention to areas in King County with especially high – or low – rates (for example, areas with high unemployment and those with low rates of commuting to work by public transit are both red); and (2) a color scheme that uses different intensities of the same hue for indicators with a neutral valence (speaking a language other than English at home and foreign born).

To check out the updated indicators, go to Community Health Indicators, then search for the indicator under the topic listed at the far left in the table below. For example, to find data on commute modes, look under the “Environment” topic.

Topics and Indicator Names.PNG

For more detailed data about commute modes through 2014 (including data on driving alone, carpooling, and working at home), see Commute Mode Trends on Communities Count’s Internet Archive (from Archive page, navigate to Internet Archive).