Socioeconomics is a term that describes the combination of economic and social level of a specific population of people. It is based on income, education, demographics, and occupation. The economic and social position of an individual or family, in relation to others, is taken into account when describing socioeconomics.
In terms of a transportation project, the socioeconomic analysis evaluates the economic and social impacts of a proposed project on the local and regional population. The scope of analyses is very broad, encompassing many areas such as employment, transportation services, household income, business output, property values and disadvantaged populations. Specific questions to be answered may include the following:
- What populations are likely to be affected?
- Where will impacts occur?
- How will businesses and tax rates be impacted?
NEPA and Documentation
Documentation prepared under NEPA guidelines requires socioeconomic impact analyses. Environmental justice evaluations are part of the larger socioeconomic analyses. Socioeconomic analysis is an examination of how a proposed project will impact the overall social and economic character of an area and the well-being of current and future residents of the affected community. NEPA documents should address the following socioeconomic parameters:
- Community demographics
- Results of service and housing market analyses
- Demand for public services
- Employment and income levels
- Changes in the visual quality of the community
Data needed for analysis can be found on state, county, municipality and other government agency websites and literature. Helpful resources include the U.S. Census Bureau and Maricopa Association of Governments.
Public and agency scoping and public involvement are another integral part of the NEPA socioeconomic process. Public perception about how a proposed project will affect a community is an important consideration and should be taken into account when planning and designing a project. Gaining an understanding of community concerns can be beneficial to facilitating the design and implementation of potential mitigation measures and can promote local acceptance of a project.