It's often said that Chicago and the rest of Illinois are so dissimilar that the big city should be its own state.
You could almost say the same about Champaign-Urbana. Even on such basic data as the ratio of females to males, the two cities differ from the rest of Illinois, according to the Census Bureau's new American Community Survey.
The survey contains detailed estimates for the combined years 2007 to 2011 on everything from median household incomes to job commute times.
Statewide, Illinois' population is estimated to be 51 percent female and 49 percent male. But in Champaign-Urbana it's 50.8 percent male and 49.2 female.
The reason for the disparity, of course, is the University of Illinois and the unusual characteristics it brings to the cities on everything from racial demographics to percentage of unmarried women to unique commuting behaviors.
Statewide, the average commute to work is 28.2 minutes. It's almost half that time for Urbana residents — 14.9 minutes — and only slightly longer for those in Champaign (15.4 minutes). Throughout Illinois an estimated 73.3 percent of commuters drive to work alone, but in Champaign it's 64.9 percent; in Urbana it's 48.2 percent. Statewide, 9 percent take public transportation to their jobs; in Urbana, 16.6 percent do. A small fraction of Illinoisans — 3.1 percent — walk to work. In Champaign, 12.8 percent do. In Urbana, it's 17.2 percent.
About 13.1 percent of Illinoisans hold government jobs. Danville, at 14.8 percent, is slightly above the statewide average, but Champaign is 31 percent government workers and Urbana is 47.9 percent in that sector.
Statewide, 72 percent of the population is white, but the Caucasian population is less in Champaign (69.3 percent), Danville (63.8 percent) and Urbana (63.2 percent). In Danville, the minority population is mostly black (30.2 percent). In Champaign, it's 16 percent black and 11.3 percent Asian. In Urbana, it's mostly Asian (17.2 percent versus 16.4 percent black).
The Hispanic or Latino population locally is far below the statewide average (15.5 percent). It's just 5.3 percent in Danville, 5.5 percent in Champaign and 5.8 percent in Urbana.
Statewide, more people (20.2 percent) list "German" as their ancestry than any other group. In Danville, though, it's "American" (16.7 percent), while in Champaign and Urbana it's German (both around 16 percent).
In Illinois, 13.7 percent of the population is listed as foreign-born. Danville (3.4 percent) and Champaign (12.8 percent) are actually below that number while Urbana (19.4 percent) is above it. Nearly 70 percent of the foreign-born in Urbana list Asia as their region of birth.
The median age statewide is 36.4 years. It's slightly younger than that in Danville (35.2 years) and significantly younger in Champaign (25.4 years) and Urbana (24 years). The greatest bulge in the Illinois population is in the ages 45 to 54 (14.5 percent), while in Danville it's ages 25 to 34 (13.5 percent). In Champaign and Urbana, it's 20 to 24 years (21.4 percent in Champaign and 30.3 percent in Urbana).
Statewide, 12.4 percent of the population is 65 and older, while it's 15.5 percent in Danville and about 7.8 percent in Champaign and Urbana.
The statewide population under 5 years is 6.6 percent, while in Danville it's 7.7 percent and in Champaign it's 5.3 percent and 4.4 percent in Urbana.
In Illinois, about 53 percent of women 15 years and older are not married. The percentage is much higher in Champaign (65 percent) and Urbana (about 75 percent).
Economic characteristics locally are more complicated because of the great numbers of single people and nonworking or low-wage students. The median household income locally is less than the statewide average. Median household income statewide is $53,234, but it's just $38,348 in Champaign and $32,808 in Urbana. The biggest share of local households (16.2 percent in Champaign and 19.7 percent in Urbana) make less than $10,000 a year.
Statewide, 15 percent of all people had income below the poverty level, while the numbers were higher in Champaign (27.3 percent) and Urbana (33 percent).
On the other hand, the percentage of families earning $100,000 or more annually is 29 percent statewide, but 30.2 percent in Champaign (just 24.3 percent in Urbana). Statewide, the percentage of households receiving food stamp benefits in the last year is 12.1 percent, but just 7.6 percent in Champaign and 8.4 percent in Urbana.
And few Illinois communities are as brainy as Champaign-Urbana. Locally, educational attainment is much higher than the statewide average (30.7 percent with a bachelor's degree or higher). In Champaign, 49.8 percent have a bachelor's or more, while in Urbana an estimated 55.4 percent are at that level. Statewide, 11.6 percent have a graduate or professional degree, while 25.3 percent do in Champaign and 33.7 percent in Urbana do.
Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.