The report found that for the bottom fifth of U.S. zip codes—which the researchers term “distressed”—the medium income only reaches 68 percent of the state-wide median and 27 percent of adults live in poverty. These communities saw employment decline by 6.7 percent during the recovery. Not the recession—the recovery. In the nation’s median and prosperous zip codes, the situation is much brighter. Employment in median zip codes rose by 2.3 percent, while in prosperous communities—the top fifth of U.S. zip codes—employment rose by an incredible 17.4 percent.
EIG’s analysis supports the notion that in the U.S. economic gains continue to be captured by those at the top. “The data outlines two different Americas from an economic standpoint,” said Steve Glickman, the co-founder and executive director of EIG. “The communities taking advantage of the knowledge economy are booming, but the areas where the industrial economy has traditionally held firmest have really suffered. These trends predate the Great Recession, but the recovery has continued to accelerate the fortunes of the most-prosperous areas and the downturn of the most distressed.”
Another piece of evidence to add to plenty of existing material: where people live has a large effect on their lives. And if the United States has persistent residential segregation – particularly by race but also by social class – then these differences by geography will continue to be pertinent.