Introduction to Economic Distress

This database reports data on “economic distress” in the United States for various geographic units.“ Economic distress” is here proxied for by the “prime-age employment rate”: the ratio of employment to population for persons age 25-54. These distress data can be used to identify geographic areas that need more job opportunities. Such increased job opportunities may be facilitated by assistance from the federal government, or from a state government. Possible policy options for creating such increased job opportunities in distressed places are identified in a report by Timothy Bartik, “How State Governments Can Target Job Opportunities to Distressed Places,” and an accompanying policy brief, “How State Governments Can Help Distressed Places.” This report and policy brief inspired the creation of this database, which is intended to help federal, state, and local policymakers who want to target distressed places for assistance, or to help persons who want to influence federal, state, or local policy towards distressed places.