The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has released its County Economic Status Designations for Fiscal Year 2020, which annually ranks the economic status of each of the Region's 420 counties using national data.
According to ARC's County Economic Status Designations for Fiscal
Year 2020, 80 counties will be considered distressed (ranking among
the worst 10 percent of counties in the nation); 110 counties will be
considered At-Risk (ranking between the worst 10–25 percent of
counties in the nation); 217 counties will be considered Transitional
(ranking between worst 25 and best 25 percent of counties in the
nation); 10 counties will be considered Competitive (ranking between
best 25 and best 10 percent of counties in the nation); and three
counties will be considered Attainment (ranking among the best 10
percent of counties in the nation).
According to the map released as part of the study, Wayne County is
included in the distressed ranking.
Other counties in this area designated as distressed include
McCreary County and Clinton County. Neighboring Pulaski County is
designated in the at-risk category.
ARC's County Economic Status Designation for Fiscal Year 2020 also
• FY 2020 will have the lowest number of designated distressed
counties in Appalachia since 2008.
• 29 Appalachian counties across 8 states experienced positive
shifts in the economic status since FY 2019. This primarily includes
counties in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi which each have five or
more counties experiencing positive economic status shifts.
• 18 Appalachian counties will experience negative shifts in their
economic status since FY 2019. This primary includes coal impacted
counties in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
"Parts of the Appalachian Region face significant economic
challenges compared to the rest of the country, and by releasing this
data publicly in an accessible format, ARC is seeking to ensure
awareness of these challenges, and to inform policymakers at all
levels," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. "ARC and our state
partners use this data to direct critical investments toward
distressed areas, and I am pleased to see net improvements in many
parts of the Region compared to previous years."
To determine the economic status of each of the Region's 420
counties, ARC applies a composite index formula drawing on the latest
data available on per capita market income combined with the previous
three-year average unemployment rate, and the previous five-year
poverty rates. With this data, each county is classified into one of
the five economic designations.
Analysis of the composite index value also showed these changes
between the County Economic Status Designations for FY 2020 compared
to County Economic Status Designations for Fiscal Year 2019:
• Per capita market income increased in both Appalachia and the
nation as a whole. However, the nation as a whole grew by 0.2
percentage points more, widening the income gap between Appalachia
and the nation.
• Poverty rates in Appalachia and the nation as a whole dropped 0.4
percentage points and 0.5 percentage points respectively. This
continued to widen the gap between Appalachia's poverty rate (16.3
percent) and the nation's rate (14.6 percent).
• The three-year average unemployment rate decreased at the same rate (0.6 percent) in both Appalachia and the rest of the nation.