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The Stifling Stability of Deep Disadvantage

A geographic overview of relative advantage and disadvantage across counties nationwide—presented by Vincent Fusaro, H. Luke Shaefer, and Jasmine Simington—evaluates results from the multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage. While many areas of the country face relative advantages, those mired in persistent disadvantage were much less likely to experience the otherwise robust benefits of economic expansion following the Great Recession.


  • While the Great Recession had negative effects for nearly all sectors and regions within the United States, the recovery highlighted regions of consistent advantage and disadvantage.
  • The Index of Deep Disadvantage is a multidimensional assessment of community-level economic well-being; counties nationwide were sorted into “advantaged” and “disadvantaged” prior to the Great Recession with recovery trends among disadvantaged counties tracked through the recovery.
  • Some counties were stable in their degree of disadvantage; stagnant stability finds many poor, non-white, and working-class households stunted by deep disadvantage.
  • Disadvantaged counties that improved through the recovery period had, on average, local economies less reliant on manufacturing, less initial poverty, lower unemployment, higher median incomes, and were less likely classified as urban.


Employment, Inequality & Mobility, Inequality & Mobility General, Labor Market, Place, Place General, Unemployment/Nonemployment


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