I have mentioned before how much I enjoy the New York Times economic coverage across the country, and today there's a new article, Poorest Areas Have Missed Out on Boons of Recovery, Study Finds. It discusses how a study completed by the Economic Innovation Group has evaluated data on various areas of the country (down to the zip code level) for seven different factors that were used to estimate a "distress score"
- Adults without a high school degree
- Poverty rate
- Adults not working
- Housing vacancy rate
- Median income (ratio to state median income)
- Change in employment between 2010 and 2013
- Change in the number of businesses between 2010 and 2013
I went to the source report, called The Distressed Communities Index, to look at our area of Northern California.
Quincy and Graeagle score in the middle range while Greenville and Portola/Sierra Valley, Chester, and Westwood have not recovered as well. This checkerboard pattern is repeated throughout the rural Sierra Nevada counties, but overall these counties have fared a bit better than those counties that lie at the very northern boundary of California. The point of the article is that places that struggled before the big housing boom did not experience much of the slow economic recovery we've seen in our country as a whole. Rather than fixating on the doom and gloom theme, I'm finding the choice of economic indicators used in this study to be very interesting, and I'm going to spend more time reading the report to find out why they were selected. But I do think it's worth pausing for a moment and considering that even within our small communities, we have a significant gap between those who are comfortable and those who are struggling. Any efforts we make toward building toward a more robust economy needs to consider ways to build resources for our residents who are struggling the most.