The Distressed Communities Index

The Distressed Communities Index (DCI) is a customized dataset created by EIG examining economic distress throughout the country and made up of interactive maps, infographics, and a report. It captures data from more than 25,000 zip codes (those with populations over 500 people). In all, it covers 99 percent — 312 million — of Americans.


The DCI calculates distress scores for every level of geography presented here: zip codes, cities, counties, and congressional districts, and tabulates data by states as well. Scores are based on a geography’s combined performance on the seven well-being metrics. The higher the score, the greater the distress. The scores range from 0 to 100, moving from dark green in the most prosperous zip codes to dark red in the most distressed ones.

The DCI combines seven complementary metrics to present a complete and multidimensional picture of economic distress–or prosperity–in U.S. communities:

  1. No High School Degree: Percent of the population 25 years and over without a high school degree
  2. Housing vacancy: Percent of habitable housing that is unoccupied, excluding properties that are for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use
  3. Adults not working: Share of the population 16 years and over that is not currently employed
  4. Poverty: Percent of population living under the poverty line
  5. Median income relative to state: Ratio of the geography’s median income to the state’s median income
  6. Change in employment: Percent change in the number of individuals employed between 2010 and 2013
  7. Change in business establishments: Percent change in the number of business establishments between 2010 and 2013

Methodology and Sources: The DCI is based on data from the American Community Survey (5-year estimates 2010-2014) and the 2010 and 2013 Zip Code and County Business Pattern data. Distress scores are calculated at the zip code, city, county, and congressional district levels. They are calculated based on a geography’s rank on each of the seven equally weighted variables. The ranks are then averaged and normalized to be equivalent to percentiles, resulting in the distress score — the higher the score, the greater the economic distress.

For media inquiries: Please contact Amanda Byrd at [email protected].
To request access to DCI data: Please contact Kenan Fikri at [email protected].

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