Areas With High-Paying Jobs and Affordable Housing in US

  • America’s economic prosperity is shifting to the mountain west and coastal southeast.
  • Utah and Idaho saw large increases in the proportion of residents living in prosperous ZIP codes.
  • Meanwhile, the share of residents in distressed ZIP codes is increasing in areas like New York City.

For Americans who want economic prosperity, the solution might be to head West.

An Economic Innovation Group analysis released March 27 finds that when it comes to economic prosperity, the Mountain West and coastal Southeast are doing particularly well — and that can be attributed, in part, to the way the pandemic has reshaped the American economy. .

Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada, and Georgia have seen the largest increases in the share of residents living in prosperous ZIP codes since the early 2010s,” wrote report authors Daniel Newman and Kenan Fikri.

The EIG uses what it calls its “distressed communities index,” which looks at factors such as how jobs have increased (or decreased) over five years, the share of the population that is below the poverty threshold, the number of vacant housing units and the number of vacant housing units. adults do not work to assess the economic well-being of a region. The highest classification according to the DCI score is “prosperous,” which represents the top quintile of well-being.

Generally speaking, the average ZIP code distress score decreased in the Mountain, South Atlantic, and Southeast Central census regions, when looking at the 2017 to 2021 period compared to 2011 to 2015. During this time, regions like New England and the Middle Atlantic saw their distress scores increase.

Things are particularly booming in states like Utah and Idaho. In Utah, the share of residents in prosperous ZIP codes during the 2017 to 2021 period increased from 47% between 2011 and 2015 to 55%.

Utah is a region that has seen a huge boom in the pandemic era, thanks to the influx of remote workers to cities like Ogden and homes selling quickly. Utah has also seen its economy rebound quickly from the impacts of the pandemic, although as BI previously reported, this may be in part due to earlier reopening and looser restrictions than other states northeast hardest hit.

Overall, red states have been the fastest to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic; as Politico reported, Utah has not enacted a stay-at-home order and is home to industries like food processing, which have been classified as essential.

Idaho has seen a similar recovery and even greater improvement in its economic well-being, according to the GIE. During the 2017 to 2021 period, the share of residents in a thriving ZIP code increased from 19% to 39% during the 2011 to 2015 period. Idaho also had a concentration of essential industries and experienced a rapid recovery in employment.

At the same time, the situation is reversed in the deep south. Mississippi has the largest share of residents in a struggling ZIP code, while Louisiana’s share increased by 10 percentage points.

And in New York, the share of residents in a struggling ZIP code increased from 12% to 20%.

“Nearly all of this increase is driven by ZIP codes in metropolitan areas like New York City, which has particularly suffered from the pandemic,” according to the analysis.

New York City has already experienced its own economic changes as a result of the pandemic. Today, millionaires are returning to the city in droves and New Yorkers are earning less than $172,000, likely in part because of an unsustainable cost of living.

All of this comes as the U.S. economy appears to be moving further west and south. And for those looking to move to where things are currently booming, there might be some good news: Housing prices in big cities in Utah and Idaho are dropping a bit, which could lead to an even greater prosperity boom.

Did you move to a more prosperous area or leave a place like New York behind? Contact this journalist at


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