Community Profile: Oasis & Thermal
Community profiles provide insight and information to the nine cities and unincorporated places in the Coachella Valley. The profiles provide precise, relevant data at the community level in combination with interactive maps and visualizations to help community members learn about the most important issues facing their communities and to help policy makers make informed decisions for their constituents. Community profiles are updated annually with the latest data, with new profiles released on a regular basis.
Thermal and Oasis are two Census Designated Places (CDPs) in the Eastern Coachella Valley. CDPs are defined geographies for unincorporated communities used by the Census Bureau for statistical purposes. While there are many similarities between these two unincorporated places, there are also important differences that exist between them.
Thermal began as a railroad camp in 1910 before permanent dwellings were established in the 1930s. Today it operates one of Riverside County's largest airports. Oasis is home to a significant historical resource known as "fish traps," which were used by the first residents of the area.
While both communities have a strong agricultural industry, Oasis is made up of many migrant workers who frequently move in and out of the area. This has led to a less consistent population size in Oasis than in Thermal. Compared with the rest of the Coachella Valley, both of these communities have higher rates of immigrants and people who have less than a high school diploma. Additionally, the communities have high rates of housing stability and participation in the labor force.
Like much of the unincorporated Eastern Coachella Valley, both communities share a history of community advocacy. Local community efforts have been instrumental in addressing housing community concerns around the lack of infrastructure, safe and affordable housing, and public health.
Explore the visualizations below to learn more about demography, housing, education, environment, health and social connectedness in Oasis and Thermal and how the community compares to the state, county and other places in the Coachella Valley.
Oasis and Thermal are neighbor census designated places in the Eastern Coachella Valley. The population of Oasis is 3,240 and the average household size is 3.29 people.
The population of Thermal is 2,166 with an average household size of 3.07. The average household size in both of these places is far larger than the average household size in the rest of the Coachella Valley, which is 2.62 people.
38% and 35% of households in Thermal and Oasis, respectively, are either people living alone or with non-relatives. This is slightly lower than the Coachella Valley average of 39% but the rate of non-family households has been on the rise in recent years, up from about 10% of households in both areas in 2010.
Race & Ethnicity
Both Oasis and Thermal have very large Latinx populations with Oasis' Latinx population at 95% and Thermal's at 99.8%. Both are much higher than the average Latinx population in the rest of the Coachella Valley of 52%.
Both Thermal (49%) and Oasis (54%) have high rates of immigrant populations. These communities have immigrant populations about two times higher than the average for the Coachella Valley- 25%. However, both of these populations have been falling slightly over time, while the immigrant population in the US and California has been rising.
Hover over the chart on the right to see how the immigration population in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the US.
Education & Insurance
Less than High School Diploma
The rate of people having less than a high school diploma is relatively high in Thermal (61%) and Oasis (73%) when compared with the average for the Coachella Valley and Riverside County, which are both closer to 20%.
Select a community to the right of the chart to see how rates of people with less than a high school diploma compare to Thermal and Oasis.
Approximately a third of the population is uninsured population rate in both Thermal (33%) and Oasis (32%), which is twice as high as the uninsured rate in the Coachella Valley (14%).
Select a community to the right of the chart to see how uninsured population rates compare to Thermal and Oasis.
Labor Force Participation Rate
The labor force participation rate has been falling in recent years in both Thermal and Oasis. However, as of 2017 both communities had a labor force participation rate of about 63%. That is higher than the average for the Coachella Valley (56%).
Hover over the chart on the right to see how the labor force participation rate in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the US.
The Latinx population living below the Federal Poverty Line is relatively high in both Thermal (34%) and Oasis (45%) compared to the Coachella Valley average of 26%. However, the rate has been falling in recent years.
Hover over the chart on the right to see how the rate of Latinx living below the poverty line in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the US.
Household stability is defined as the percentage of households living in the same housing unit as they were one year ago. The rate of housing stability is high in both Thermal (91%) and Oasis (97%) when compared with the Coachella Valley average of 87%.
An overcrowded household is one in which there is more than one person per room. The rate of household overcrowding has been falling in both Oasis and Thermal. In Oasis, the percent of households overcrowded was at its peak- 30%- in 2016 estimates. By 2017 estimates, the percent of overcrowded households was at 16%. In Thermal household overcrowding reached 20% in 2016 estimates and fell to 13% in 2017 estimates.
Similarly, the rates of homeownership in both Thermal and Oasis have been falling in recent years. As of 2017 estimates, homeownership rates in Thermal were 73% and in Oasis were 51%. The average of these two areas (62%) was close to the Coachella Valley average in that year of 66%.
Hover over the chart on the right to see how the rate of homeownership in Thermal and Oasis have changed over time in comparison to the Coachella Valley, CA and the US.
A household that is rent burdened spends more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities. The rate of households experiencing rent burden in Oasis is 41% and in Thermal is 45%. These rates are lower than the Coachella Valley average of 55%.
Select a community to the right of the chart to see how rent burden rates compare to Oasis and Thermal.
Households without Vehicles
Unsurprisingly given the rate of transit ridership, there are more households without vehicles in Thermal, 10%, than in Oasis, 5%. The average rate of households without vehicles in the Coachella Valley is 6%.
The rate of non-English speaking households in Thermal and Oasis is about 51%. This is more than twice as high as the average rate of non-English speaking households in the Coachella Valley which is just 13%.
Select a community to the right of the chart to see how linguistic isolation rates compare to Thermal and Oasis.
Environmental quality is measured in a variety of ways, including air and water quality. The environmental quality in the Northern area of the Salton Sea is measured by aggregating three census tracts (456.04, 456.05, 456.09) that include the communities of Thermal and Oasis. This area is marked by high pollution and lower levels of drinking water quality than the rest of the Coachella Valley.
The average annual concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) is a common measure of air quality. PM2.5 refers to tiny particles in the air that are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, allowing them to penetrate the lungs and bloodstream, causing adverse health effects. Particle matter can include a mixture of organic chemicals, wood, dust, soot, and metals; and can be released into the air from cars and trucks, factories, and wood burning and fires.
The PM2.5 Concentration in 2017 in these three census tracts was 7.55, higher than the Coachella Valley average of 7.26.
Another way to measure air quality is through the Pollution Burden Score, which is an index ranging from 0.1 to 10 that measures potential exposure to pollutants and adverse environmental conditions. In 2017, the Pollution Burden Score was 5.89 in these three tracts, much higher than the Coachella Valley average of 3.44.
The California OEHHA created an index measuring the average annual concentration of 13 common water contaminants in order to measure drinking water quality.
In these three census tracts, the drinking water contaminant index measures 462.22. This number is higher than the Coachella Valley average of 436.29.
Explore the visualization above to see how the water quality in these three census tracts compares to the average for the Coachella Valley.
While both communities struggle with these environmental issues, progress is being made due to community mobilization. Recently, the Eastern Coachella Valley was awarded funding from the South Coast Air Quality Management for a pilot program that aims to improve air quality. One organization, Comite Civico, works to bulid partnerships across the Eastern Coachella Valley in order to improve access to health services and spread environmental justice. Furthermore, Comite Civico has conducted extensive research and runs important programming in the area that aim at improving air and water quality in the region.
Source Notes: All data in this community profile come from either the 2017 5-year estimates of the American Community Survey or the 2009 5-year estimates of the American Community Survey.
Photo Credits: Lift to Rise