Posted on March 8, 2016

Report: Can Distressed Communities Achieve the ‘American Dream’?

Mashaun D. Simon, NBC News, March 8, 2016

If you grew up in what is being considered a distressed community, it is more likely than not that you will not achieve the American Dream.

Harsh words, yes; but they summarize the results of a 30-plus page report released by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) in February.

The 2016 Distressed Communities Index shines a light on the gap between the richest and the poorest communities in the United States. The report breaks down communities by zip codes and highlights that many of the country’s distressed communities stretch along the southern region of the county.

Read the full report here.


Plagued by poverty and joblessness, the report found that the average distressed zip code had 25 percent of adults without a high school diploma, more than half are not working, “nearly one in seven homes stands vacant, and 27 percent of individuals live in poverty.”


“Many of the most distressed zip codes in the Southwest are home to large struggling Native American populations. The large pockets of severe distress in the Deep South are predominantly African-American communities,” he said. “In places like San Antonio and elsewhere in southern Texas, Hispanic populations look to be the most distressed.”

There are other trends that can be discerned as well.

“For example, the share of the adult population without high school degrees, which is one of our seven metrics of distress, runs highest in places where the non-native born population is large,” he said. “But there’s clearly more to tell.”

Matching up the demographic data is being seen as an obvious next step, EIG reports. They expect the outcome of the demographic data to produce some pretty urgent and troubling insights, Lettieri said.