Delaware ends up light blue in distressed states index


A report released Monday shows Delaware faring relatively well when compared to other areas in a measurement of economic distress.

The findings came in the Economic Innovation Group’s   2017 Distressed Communities Index (DCI), a nationwide analysis and interactive tool.

The map above shows figures for the state through its one Congressional District. The report includes zip codes and counties.

Delaware came in as a light blue state, in a mapping of states. Dark blue areas tended to be clustered around cities like New York and Philadelphia, with reds often occurring in rural areas and dark blues near the ocean.


A distress index showed a wide range of levels ranging from a troubling 93 for Wilmington to nine-tenths of one percent for Middletown.

Among the state’s three counties, the index ranged from 13.5  in New Castle County to 27  in Sussex and 29  in Kent.

Maryland counties bordering Delaware had much higher distress rates than their Delaware neighbors. Wicomico County (Salisbury) had a 55 figure. A portion of southern New Jersey was in the red zone.

Affluent Chester County, which borders Delaware had a deep blue  2.6 rate, while blue-collar Delaware County stood at 15.

The report noted, the index  “reveals a growing divergence in the economic and social experience of America’s distressed communities from the nation as a whole.”

“Economic inequality in America translates into opportunity gaps for too many communities,” said Steve Glickman, co-founder and executive director of the Economic Innovation Group. “Unless policymakers in both parties reframe their priorities, economically distressed communities will continue to experience a downward spiral that results in a loss of faith in the American dream and less healthy and fulfilling lives.”

According to the DCI, one in six, or 52.3 million, Americans live in a distressed community, places that are characterized by deep poverty, pervasive joblessness, low levels of educational attainment, and little to no economic growth.

In the average distressed zip code, more than a quarter of the population lives in poverty, 40 percent of prime-age adults are missing from the workforce, and nearly a quarter of adults lack even a high school diploma, the report noted.

Meanwhile, America’s prosperous zip codes, the nation’s most populous and economically vibrant places, are largely insulated from the challenges facing the rest of the country.  

“These communities are home to 84 million people, and they garnered more than half of the recovery’s new jobs and business establishments. The poverty rate is more than 20 points lower in the average prosperous community than in the average distressed one, and residents enjoy incomes that approach, on average, 150 percent of their statewide median,” the report noted.

The report finds a clear link between an individual’s health outcomes and the economic conditions of their community. 

Additional findings from the study include:

  • High growth in a few economic powerhouses buoys national numbers while obscuring stagnant or declining economic activity in other parts of the country. 
  • Disparities in educational attainment are closely linked to the diverging fates of communities. 
  • The DCI reveals massive disparities in physical well-being that parallel those in economic well-being. 
  • The federal safety net supports struggling places as well as struggling people. 
  •  Race and ethnicity remain strong predictors of one’s economic well-being in the United States. Asians and whites are more likely to live in prosperous zip codes than any other type, while blacks and Native Americans are most likely to live in distressed ones
  • Economically distressed communities are a bipartisan challenge. Democrats and Republicans each represent millions of Americans living in distressed zip codes at all levels of government. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans disproportionately represent the nation’s most prosperous congressional districts. Republicans represent 63 percent of the country’s prosperous districts compared to Democrats’ 37 percent.

The report used  U.S. Census data to crunch the numbers.