Financial and Monetary Systems

Which US states are in the most economic distress?

Barbara Tasch
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The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) recently looked at which states had the highest percentage of their population living in economic distress, and a clear trend appeared.

The Southeast of the US, which has always struggled with poverty, still has the highest concentration of people living in economic distress.

To assess economic distress, the study examined these seven variables in over 25,000 ZIP codes: educational attainment, housing-vacancy rates, unemployment rates, poverty levels, median-income ratios, percent changes in employment, and percent change in establishments.

The study is based on data from the American Community Survey from the 2009-2013 period.

Based upon those criteria, EIG then ranks the states according to the percentage of population who lives in a ZIP code that falls into the top 15% of distressed ZIP codes in the US.

A high concentration of states with 15% and more of the population living in distress is clearly visible in the Southeast.

Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia all have at 15% of their population living in economic distress, with Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina all topping the list at 25%.

states (2)


The northern states generally do better than the South with only Michigan topping the 15% threshold.

The state with the highest percentage of people living in distress is Nevada, where a third of the population is in that situation. Wyoming, on the other hand, has 0% of its almost 600,000 inhabitants living in economic distress.

This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Barbara Tasch is a news intern for Business Insider. 

Image: The word “Bankruptcy” is painted on the side of a building in Detroit. REUTERS/Joshua Lott.

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Related topics:
Financial and Monetary SystemsEconomic ProgressYouth Perspectives
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