The US economy is recovering! From 2000 until 2015, 6.8 million jobs were created. That’s good news. The figures for the nation are general. The specifics aren’t as positive. About 6.5 million of those jobs came from only 10% of the zip codes, the ones that were already prosperous. The bottom 20% of zip codes started low, were dropping before the Great Recession, and have continued to drop in the recovery. The middle 70% are basically muddling by. Depending on which story people want to tell, they merely have to pick the zip code that matches the narrative. From inside any of the areas, it can seem like the rest of the country is in the same situation, particularly because prosperity and poverty tend to cluster. In previous eras and for previous generations, the poor could move to rich areas; but now, the disparity in living expenses means poor people can’t afford to move to richer areas to look for a job. There are few who can move to Silicon Valley, especially as full-time workers there are finding the expenses are too high and are therefore moving out. Wealth and income inequality continue to grow as a result.
“Having so many underperforming communities makes the country less productive and resilient. The U.S. increasingly depends on a relatively small number of economic engines.” – AXIOS