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.

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