We know there’s a widening geographic economic gap in the United States, most vividly described in the months leading up to the 2016 election as a battle between the “left behind” and the “coastal elites.” Now we have new detail on how that breaks down by locality. One in six Americans are living in ZIP codes that are considered economically “distressed,” according to the Economic Innovation Group’s 2017 Distressed Communities Index. More than 84 million others—one in four—live in communities that are considered prosperous.
“You have at the top a really strong, booming, disproportionate amount of growth happening in elite communities,” explains John Lettieri, EIG’s senior director for policy and strategy. “And at the bottom it’s not just that the gap is getting bigger between top and bottom—it’s that they’re pulling in opposite directions.”