Muni Commentary


    Does a Rising Tide Lift All?

    Posted by Sue Childs on Oct 9, 2018 5:31:00 PM

    This week we bring you the September 2018 DIVER Geo Scores.  In addition to our regularly collected data, the U.S. Census Bureau released 2017 poverty rates and most states showed decreasing rates year-over-year. But, before we assume that the rising tide is lifting all boats, some states and cities have weaker employment pictures (as reported last month) and increasing foreclosures.

    DIVER Geo Scores are designed to quickly communicate the overall economic health of a selected geographic area on a scale of 0 to 10. The Geo Score reflects the relative economic well-being of the location and is available for all States, counties, and approximately 350 of the largest cities. Calculations are released monthly and are based on multiple, meaningful economic and demographic data from the employment, income and housing categories.

    Top and Bottom State Level Geo Score for September 2018

    Below are the top and bottom ten States ranked by their Geo Scores for September 2018. For a full list of all states and their respective scores, visit our website.

    Source: DIVER Data Solutions

    Top/Bottom Movers at the State Level

    At the state level, this past month jobless rates were 0.69% lower on average for top mover States compared to 12 months ago. Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia and Illinois had particularly good upticks in employment. Additionally, Alaska had appreciable decreases in year-over-year unemployment from 6.3% (2017) to 5.4% (2018). The unemployment rates in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota and Maine set a new series low, with all below 3%. But, by contrast, Maryland, Wyoming and 5 other bottom performing states showed job losses last month.

    In September, U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey released the 2017 poverty statistics by state. According to the report, most states had decreased poverty rates in 2017 when compared to 2016. For example, poverty rates in Idaho and Kentucky dropped by 1.6% and 1.3% respectively over the twelve-month period. But in Alaska and Delaware, more residents were living in poverty in 2017 than in 2016. It remains to be seen if recent decreases in Alaska’s unemployment rate will have an effect on the state’s overall poverty rate.

    In the housing market, Iowa, Indiana and Illinois had the biggest decreases in foreclosure rates while Nevada had a slight 0.03% increase in foreclosures filings.

    Source: DIVER Data Solutions

    County Level Geo Scores Top and Bottom Movers

    Below are the top and bottom 25 counties ranked by their Geo Scores for September 2018. For a full list of all counties and their respective scores, visit our website.

    Source: DIVER Data Solutions

    Average weekly wages for Reeves County, TX increased about $296 in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of 2017, followed by Eastland County, TX ($150), Dimmit County, TX ($145), Trimble County, KY ($120) and Concho County, TX ($100). Among bottom movers, Tazewell County, IL had the largest weekly wages decrease of -$137.

    Polk County, TX had the biggest foreclosures rates decreases (0.31%) in September while Montgomery County, NY had the biggest foreclosures rate increase. Several Counties had increased poverty rates in 2017, including Reeves County, TX (top mover, 5.7%), Dimmit County, TX (top mover, 3.2%), Wicomico County, MD (bottom mover, 3.3%) and Jefferson County, TX (bottom mover, 3.2%).

    Source: DIVER Data Solutions

    City Level Geo Scores Top and Bottom Movers

    City/Town top movers had increased average weekly wages while poverty rates and foreclosures rates stayed low. Ten cities in California still performed strongly in September DIVER Geo Scores due to significant decreases in poverty rates and foreclosures rates. Hayward, Oakland and Everett in California had the biggest annual weekly wages increases (+$131).

    When looking at City/Town bottom movers, almost all locations reported higher poverty and foreclosure rates. Bloomington, Illinois experienced annual average weekly wage decline.

    Source: DIVER Data Solutions

    A special thanks to Jane Ma and Julie Wen for their always outstanding effort in pulling together our Geo Scores each month.

    Have a great week,

    Sue Childs


    Topics: Commentary