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.