Map Monday: Distressed Communities Index for Minnesota

In the past week or so, the Distressed Communities Index, released by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) has gotten a lot of attention. Many posts and articles have been written about it, for good reason I believe.

The Distressed Communities Index examines economic distress and presents its data through infographics, a report, and an excellent interactive map (which was of most interest to me). The interactive map presents its data nationally and by state. It breaks it down by county or by zip code, even overlays congressional district boundaries. Go check out the map.

Here is what the DCI measures:

  • No High School Degree: Percent of the population 25 years and over without a high school degree
  • Housing vacancy: Percent of habitable housing that is unoccupied, excluding properties that are for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use
  • Adults not working: Share of the population 16 years and over that is not currently in employed
  • Poverty: Percent of population living under the poverty line
  • Median income relative to state: Ratio of the geography’s median income to the state’s median income
  • Change in employment: Percent change in the number of individuals employed between 2010 and 2013
  • Change in business establishments: Percent change in the number of business establishments between 2010 and 2013

The dataset shows Minnesota is doing pretty well, ranked 47th out of 51 for most distressed states. We have some areas the DCI dataset shows as seriously distressed and they are mostly outside the metro: spots in the Iron Range, near the Red Lake reservation, and part of SE Minnesota around Walnut Grove was the most distressed. The zip code 55415 including part of Downtown East and part of  Elliot Park made the top five most distressed zip codes in the state with a distress score of 93.2 out of 100.

Here is the map of Minnesota by county, followed a map of Minnesota by zip code
Minnesota economic distress by County

Minnesota economic distress by ZIP

Clearly the zip code map has much more detail and highlights distressed communities, it makes me with we had a map based on census district or census block to get even greater detail. The metro areas of Rochester, St. Cloud, Moorhead, and the suburban Twin Cities are not distressed according to the DCI dataset. But lets look closer at the core of the Twin Cities.

Distressed ZIP codes of Minneapolis and St. Paul

This is really fascinating to see visually and might even fit with many assumptions of what particular areas of the metro area are like. Go mouse around the interactive map at the link above, the zip codes reveal the statistics for each zip code.

But I had one particular issue that I couldn’t shake. The zip code map of Minnesota’s distressed communities had a worrying similarity with another map I posted about a few weeks ago. The Minnesota Carbon Donut. I immediately thought of the famous XKCD comic on heat maps. The map of economic distress correlates quite closely with the carbon footprint ring. Huh? I’m going to have to dwell on that a bit more, but I think how closely they match up deserves some attention.

Eric Anondson

About Eric Anondson

Born in St. Louis Park and lived there nearly 28 years but has been living in Hopkins since 2008. Eric's hopped around two years or so at a time in Loring Park, Laurel Village, Snellby, Whittier, and Golden Valley. He works in downtown Minneapolis. On Twitter as @xeoth.

13 thoughts on “Map Monday: Distressed Communities Index for Minnesota

  1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    Maybe I missed it somewhere, but this post could use a legend: the scale is from dark green (least distressed) to dark red (most distressed) with tan, for some reason, just passed the mid-point.

  2. mplsjaromir

    Let me guess, for the Economic Innovation Group all solutions are on the table except for redistribution of incomes.

    I do not care about what the guy who invented Napster thinks about social policy.

  3. Adam MillerAdam Miller

    Looking at this, zip codes seem like a less than ideal way to slice it. I’m surprised, for example, some of the neighborhoods in central Minneapolis south of 94 – e.g., Phillips – aren’t more distressed than shown, but then you realize that area is split between 55404 – quite distressed – and 55407 – not too distressed, presumably because of the influence of its more southerly neighborhoods.

    So too the broader “Frogtown” are in St. Paul that’s split between 55104 – not so distressed – and 55103 – very distressed.

    Nonetheless, interesting stuff.

    1. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

      Yeah. I noted in the post I’d really like the measure of distress measured by a finer geography like census district or census block, something that shows neighborhood level changes that is happening in dense urban areas.

      And the map fail of lacking the legend? The interactive map at the links have it there where the legend is equally interactive, clicking on the legend lets you filter it!

  4. Jeff

    It makes sense to me that the economic distress map would correlate (in terms of the Carbon Donut) because the dark green in this map (indicating a total lack of economic distress) represents the same population that, in the Carbon Donut, can afford sprinkler systems and heavy water use. In the urban core, there are people who can afford to heavily water their lawns but they don’t have as large a lot and many of them, I’m guessing, are more environmentally conscious.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      Sorry, for the second reply, but I guess I think the carbon donut is easy to understand – these are places that are spread out and car dependent, which means that transportation emission are going to be high. They also have very little mutlifamily housing, which means housing emission are up too.

      It’s a little counter-intuitive, though, that the added expense of car dependence doesn’t correlate at all with this measure of economic distress.

      1. Monte Castleman

        It’s doesn’t have to be all that expensive to be car dependent. My stepfather sells a lot of $1,000 cars to people that drive without insurance, and then, not infrequently, stop making payments and it’s not worth it hunting down the car to repo.

          1. Monte Castleman

            I don’t think these people are taking much financial risk. If they had any kind of money that could be seized for a judgement after a lawsuit they’d be driving nicer cars with insurance.

            1. Joe

              Haha. But this article was about financial distress. As an example of how car ownership doesn’t cause financial distress, you are exclusively using people ALREADY in financial distress to say that their car didn’t cause it. Which is true, but not really relevant.

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