A lot can change in three years.
The last Missoula City-County Health Department Community Health Assessment came out in 2014 and some of the differences outlined in its new draft, released Wednesday, are striking.
One of the most eye-popping changes is the fact that the number of legal child abuse and neglect cases filed in Missoula County more than doubled in the last five years, while the number of children in foster care rose at the same rate.
But, let’s start with the good.
Unemployment rates have dropped in Missoula County, from about 4 percent in 2014 to a little over 3 percent. Montana as a whole has stayed flat at 4 percent.
Transportation is as diverse as it’s ever been in Missoula, though 71 percent of Missoulians still drive alone to work. But Mountain Line’s free fare has more than doubled its ridership (to nearly 1.5 million rides a year) and the almost 10 percent of people who walk or bike to work is much higher than the rest of the state and three times as high as the entire United States.