Tags: distressed community | poor | recession | wealth divide

Southern States More Likely to Have Desperately Poor Areas With No Growth

Southern States More Likely to Have Desperately Poor Areas With No Growth
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 October 2017 09:41 PM

Southern U.S. states are much more likely to have residents living in economically distressed neighborhoods than other parts of the country, a new online survey shows.

About 52.3 million individuals live in economically distressed ZIP codes, or areas that are the worst performers on the Distressed Communities Index, as measured by the Economic Innovation Group in Washington. That means one in six Americans, or 17 percent of the U.S. population.

The South has the biggest share of its population (roughly 23 percent) living in distressed communities and the smallest share of its population living in prosperous ones. The region is home to 52 percent of all Americans living in distressed ZIP codes, greater than its 37.5 percent share of the country’s total population.

In raw terms, the South is home to more Americans in prosperous ZIP codes than any other region (31 percent of the national total), it is the only region whose share of the country’s prosperous population is smaller than its share of the total population.

Not Just the South

These communities can be found in every region of the country and in rural areas, suburbs and cities. Some are predominantly minority, while others are nearly exclusively white.

“These 5,225 ZIP codes are the places that have fallen through the cracks of the U.S. economy,” according to EIG. “Their residents struggle to access economic opportunities that offer the chance for a better life.”

A quarter of the distressed population is under 18 years of age, meaning roughly 13 million American children are growing up in communities likely to have deeply negative “neighborhood effects” on young people’s future earnings potential.

In the average distressed ZIP code, more than a quarter of the population lives in poverty and more than 40 percent of prime-age adults are missing from the workforce. Nearly a quarter of adults in the average distressed community lacks a high school diploma. Roughly one in seven homes stands vacant, and median incomes average barely two-thirds of state-wide levels.

For these distressed areas, the best years of the national economic recovery since the Great Recession of 2008-09 never happened. Distressed communities experienced a deep ongoing recession from 2011 to 2015, with a 6 percent average decline in employment and a 6.3 percent average drop in businesses, EIG said.

Rich Gonna’ Get Richer

Economic growth is most concentrated in a handful of ZIP codes where the wealthiest congregate. About 85 million Americans live in prosperous communities, or 27 percent of the U.S. population.

The poverty rate is more than 20 points lower in the average prosperous community than it is in the average distressed one. Only one-third as many homes stand vacant, work is plentiful and nearly 19 of every 20 adults has completed high school.

Residents of prosperous ZIP codes enjoy incomes that are on average 1.5 times the statewide median. Job growth rate in the top quintile was 2.6 times higher than the national average from 2011 to 2015, and business establishments proliferated three times faster.

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Southern U.S. states are much more likely to have residents living in economically distressed neighborhoods than other parts of the country, a new online survey shows. About 52.3 million individuals live in economically distressed ZIP codes, or areas that are the worst...
distressed community, poor, recession, wealth divide
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2017-41-18
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 09:41 PM
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