Hamilton, Boone counties rank among most prosperous in the state in new report

A new report on the well-being of communities in the U.S. highlights the growth and success Hamilton and Boone counties have experienced in recent years, especially in Fishers.

Washington, D.C.-based Economic Innovation Group recently released the Distressed Communities Index as a tool to analyze and measure well-being across the country. The report considers factors including education, employment, housing vacancy rates, poverty rates, median income, job growth and change in business establishments from 2010-2013.

The data can be broken down by state, county and zip code. Each community received a collective “distress score,” which was compared to others throughout the state and country.

Hamilton and Boone counties ranked last and second to last, respectively, for distressed scores compared to all 92 counties in Indiana, meaning those areas are considered the most prosperous areas in the state.

Hamilton County has experienced a nearly 15 percent increase in the number of jobs, along with a 9 percent growth in business establishments. Boone County had even more job growth—about 21 percent—and a nearly 6 percent increase in the number of businesses.

Both counties have single-digit percentages for the number of residents without a high school degree and those living in poverty. Both also have single-digit housing vacancy rates.

Meanwhile, the state as a whole saw its number of businesses decline by 1 percent and only a 6.5 percent increase in jobs. Indiana ranks 23rd in the nation for its distressed community score with 16 percent of the state’s population living in a distressed zip code.

About 10 percent of the housing stock is vacant, and 42 percent of adults aren’t working. The adults not working category is the percent of those 16 years and older not employed.

The average “distressed” community, meaning its score fell in the highest 20 percent of its peer group, has a 27 percent poverty rate and 14 percent housing vacancy. The number of jobs and businesses both decreased from 2010-2013, and 55 percent of adults aren’t working.

The report also ranked the top 10 most distressed and most prosperous cities, and Fishers landed as the sixth most prosperous city in the U.S. Not surprising, given that the report concludes that the most prosperous cities tend to be the newest and fastest-growing.

The 46037 zip code, which includes the Geist area and the east side of Fishers, ranked as the most prosperous in Indiana, with a median income that more than doubles the state median. Only 2 percent of residents don’t have a high school degree and only 5 percent of the housing stock is vacant.

The 46033 zip code, which includes the area in Carmel to the east of Keystone Parkway, also appears to be doing well, according to the data. The area has a poverty rate of only 2 percent and a median income nearly 2.5 times as high as the state median.

In Zionsville, or the 46077 zip code, only 1 percent of the population is below the poverty level and 2 percent of residents don't have a high school degree. 

Gary finished in the top three nationwide for most distressed, with 98.9 percent of its population living in a distressed zip code. Several areas in Marion County also continue to struggle, but as a county, the community ranked 18 out of 92.

See where the different areas of the state rank in the map below. For the full report, click here.

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