NEW YORK / Bloomberg
The U.S. is a nation divided — divided between zip codes where economic times are good and zip codes where they really aren’t.
This map was compiled by the Economic Innovation Group, a new Washington think tank with Silicon Valley backing.
It’s based on a variety of economic indicators, most for the years 2010 to 2014, and covers all zip codes with more than 500 people. You can also look at the data by county, city and Congressional district.
This Distressed Communities Index, the EIG wrote in a report released last week, is intended to facilitate a better understanding of the pervasive pessimism many Americans feel about their own communities and personal economic prospects in spite of years of steady U.S. economic expansion.
News-media coverage of the report also emphasized the negative, which was entirely understandable and appropriate. However, there are places that are prospering.
Here’s how it looks closer up:
There are a few distressed zip codes in the central cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but apart from those, the area is awash in economic plenty. The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has added more than 200,000 new jobs since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
The area’s unemployment rate in December was just 3.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted), compared with 4.8 percent nationwide. The median household income is well above the national median.And here’s the really great part: Normal people can actually afford to buy houses there.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ Housing Affordability Index, a median-income family in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area had 217 percent of the income necessary to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan on a median-priced single-family home there in 2015.
In metropolitan San Jose, California, the nation’s least affordable real-estate market, that figure was just 64 percent.I have written a lot lately about booming coastal cities and their impossibly expensive real
Still, there are limits to how much more can be built in crowded coastal metropolises, while there are lots of metropolitan areas in the U.S. where real estate is cheap. In many of them, it’s cheap because the local economy is in the dumps. But that’s clearly not the case in the Minneapolis area.
The EIG data used in the map above isn’t sorted by metropolitan area, but a Brookings Institution report from January speaks on “growth, prosperity and inclusion” in the country’s 100 biggest metro areas. From that list, the places that ranked in the bottom half of the 179 metropolitan areas on the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 affordability index were eliminated.
This whittled the list down to 11 places: Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Minneapolis; Oklahoma City; Omaha, Nebraska; Pittsburgh; Toledo, Ohio; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. None of these metropolitan areas is what you’d call a boomtown.