New report paints mixed picture of economic opportunity in islan - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

New report paints mixed picture of economic opportunity in islands

(Image: Hawaii News Now/File) (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)

Just 1 percent of Hawaii residents live in "distressed" neighborhoods, according to a new national report that also shows the islands have among the nation’s lowest percentage of residents living in prosperous ZIP codes.

The report, from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Innovation Group, used Census data on education, housing vacancies, employment, poverty, median income, and changes in the numbers of businesses to rate states, counties and ZIP codes on economic distress or prosperity.

The group’s aim: To highlight the vast disparities in opportunity from state to state and city to city.

The report ranked Wyoming no. 1 in the nation for the lowest percentage of residents living in distressed ZIP codes. Hawaii came in a close second, Vermont rounded out the top three.

By comparison, Mississippi had 40 percent of residents living in distressed ZIP codes, the highest in the nation. Alabama had the second-highest with 35 percent, and nearly one-third of West Virginia residents live in distressed ZIP codes.

Meanwhile, Hawaii had the sixth-lowest percentage of residents in the nation who live in prosperous ZIP codes: Just 13 percent held that distinction. Hawaii fell between Alabama (12 percent) and New Mexico (14 percent) on the indicator.

Mississippi had the lowest percentage of residents in prosperous communities, with 9 percent.

Honolulu was also identified as among the most economically “spatially equal” cities in the nation. In other words, distress and opportunity are spread more evenly.

The report gave Honolulu an inequality score of 7.4, the fifth-lowest in the nation.

In fact, the study put the percentage of Honolulu County residents who live in distressed communities as negligible.

In Hawaii County, though, 8.4 percent of residents were said to be living in distressed communities, the highest rate in the state.

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