Still struggling: four Oregon areas still missing in action

The Great Recession is over. Right? Don’t tell that to the folks who live in four areas of Oregon designated among the most distressed communities in the state.

According to an exhaustive analysis just released by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a significant portion of Americans still feel like the recovery has left them behind. That translates into over 30 million Americans living in communities defined by slow job growth, vanishing businesses, and fewer opportunities to move up the economic ladder.

EIG used seven metrics to assess economic well-being:

  • Educational Attainment: Percent of population 25 years and over with a high school degree.
  • Housing Vacancy Rate: Percent of habitable housing that is unoccupied.
  • Unemployment Rate: Share of the labor force that is unemployed.
  • Poverty Level: Percent of population living under the poverty line.
  • Median Income Ratio: Ratio of the zip code’s median income to the state’s median income.
  • Change In Employment: Percent change in the number of individuals employed.
  • Change in Business Establishments: Percent change in the number of businesses.

Oregon compares relatively well overall to the rest of the country in terms of the economic health of its residents (EIG considers just 4% to be living in economic distress, http://bit.ly/1S2eoVR), but it’s not totally in the clear.

Based on the metrics above, the following Oregon zip codes earned the dubious distinction of being the state’s most economically distressed areas in four different population density categories:

Density Category Location Zip Code
Very High Portland 97209
High Portland 97204
Medium Medford 97501
Low Christmas Valley 97641

Zip code 97209 in Portland is the most distressed area in the Very High Density category in Oregon.

Zip Code 97209

Zip Code 97209

Approximately 35.1% of 97209’s population lives in a low-income household with an annual income of less than $25,000 and another 20.7 percent live in a household earning an annual income between $25,000 and $50,000.

Portland zip code 97204 is the most distressed area in the High Density category.

Zip Code 97204

Zip Code 97204

Estimated annual median household income is just $13,350, significantly below the state average, and 91 percent of the households have an annual income of less than $30,000. Residents with a high school degree or less comprise 78 percent of the population.

Zip code 97501 in Medford is the most distressed area in the Medium Density category in Oregon.

Zip Code 97501

Zip Code 97501

Approximately 34.6% of 97501’s population lives in a household with an annual income of less than $25,000. Another 29.1% live in a household earning an annual income between $25,000 and $50,000. Annual median household income is $36,157. That puts 97501 363rd among all of Oregon’s zip codes.

As a side note, maybe tied to the local economy, 97501 has almost 8 bars per 10,000 residents, 32% more bars than average for Oregon and  95% more than the United States as a whole.

Zip code 97641, a sparsely populated area in Christmas Valley is the most distressed area in the low density category in Oregon.

Zip Code 97641

Zip Code 97641

Only 12 percent of the population has education beyond high school, connected, perhaps, to the fact that the median annual household income is 20,795 and 66% of the households have an annual income below $30,000.

In the coming weeks, EIG will be developing tools to enable people to easily compare communities and dive deeper into what is driving economic distress or prosperity. You will be able to see how well your community is doing, and then compare it to others across the country

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