San Luis Obispo County Profile
San Luis Obispo County is located on California’s scenic central coast, bordered by Monterey, Kern and Santa Barbara Counties to the north, east and south (respectively). The population of the county numbers over 273,000, the majority of which lies within seven incorporated cities (Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo). SLO County is more than 3,304 square miles in size, the vast majority of which is agricultural land or open space. The state is a large employer in the area (through a state university, hospital and detention center); other major industries include agriculture and tourism. Local attractions include Hearst Castle (the estate of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst) and a growing wine region.
Though perhaps not immediately apparent to locals or tourists, like other communities, SLO County is not without problems or needs. According to the 2010 ACTION for Healthy Communities Indicator Report, 12% of survey respondents reported that they went without some basic needs (most commonly healthcare and food) in the last year. The same survey reports California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) scores of third graders in each of the county’s school districts; only 54% of third-grade students scored proficient or above in the English-Language Arts subject area. When considering the health of adult residents, the ACTION Report uses some data collected by the California Health Interview Survey; in 2007, 49% of adults in SLO County were overweight or obese, as determined by body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater.
While we live in a wonderful place, it is clear that there is still much we can do to make our community stronger and healthier. For 50 years United Way of SLO County has been working with local partners to do just that. Please help us continue our good work by giving, advocating or volunteering on behalf of an issue you are passionate about; for more information visit the links below.
Common Good Forecaster
The first-ever California Human Development Report, released in May 2011, reveals widening differences among ordinary Californians in the areas of health, education and income.
A Portrait of California, a report by the American Human Development Project and funded in part by United Ways of California, provides an easy-to-understand composite number to measure the well-being of Californians in the areas of education, income and health. Researchers used the internationally-recognized Human Development Index (HD Index) to rank how Californians are doing against key benchmarks, broken out by demographic, geographic and other distinctions.
An alternative to the GDP as a measure of well-being, the American HD Index is calculated using standard government data that is weighted equally to come up with a composite score, with 10 being the highest possible score. These include life expectancy at birth and mortality rates to measure health, age of school enrolment and educational degree attainment to measure education, and median earnings to measure people’s standard of living/income.
While California's overall score of 5.46 is better than the nation's 5.09, a great deal of variation exists across local geography, ethnicity and gender. California’s index score represents the aggregate of 233 neighborhood and county groups designated as Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMAs) as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. PUMAs typically range in population size from 100,000–200,000 people; they are significantly smaller than congressional districts, which have approximately 650,000 people. They are also all of roughly equal size, allowing for apples-to-apples comparisons that would not be possible using counties or zip codes; both counties and zip codes have populations that range from the hundreds to the millions. Locally we have two PUMAs. The San Luis Obispo PUMA scores 4.64 while the Paso Robles to Carrizo Plain PUMA scores 5.45. Click here for the Human Development Index by County Groups (PUMAs) in California.