Distressed Areas Classification System

Source and Methodology

Since 2007, the Appalachian Regional Commission has recognized that some areas in non-distressed counties have substantially higher poverty or lower income levels than national averages and should be considered economically distressed. These areas should be an important focus of Commission assistance. Accordingly, the Commission designates as “distressed areas,” those census tracts in at-risk and transitional counties that have a median family income no greater than 67 percent of the U.S. average and a poverty rate 150 percent of the U.S. average or greater. Designations are revised annually using the latest five-year estimates from the American Community Survey.

Distressed Areas Indicators

Median Family Income
The median family income is the median income value for all families in a given area. The median divides the income distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median income and one-half above the median. The median is not skewed by outlier values in the data distribution, unlike the mean or average value.

Source for Fiscal Years 2012–2021: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. http://www.census.gov/acs

Source for Fiscal Years 2007–2011: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Census of Population and Housing 2000 Summary File 3.
http://www.census.gov/main/www/cen2000.html

Poverty Rate
The poverty rate is computed by dividing the number of persons living below the poverty threshold by the number of persons for whom poverty status has been determined.

Note: Five-year poverty estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey were first used in the fiscal year 2012 distressed areas designations. The decennial census no longer produces poverty data. A new five-year poverty estimate will be incorporated into the designations each fiscal year.

Source for Fiscal Years 2012–2021: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. http://www.census.gov/acs/

Source for Fiscal Years 2007–2011: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Census of Population and Housing 2000 Summary File 3. 
https://www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/poverty.html

Time Series

ARC computes new distressed areas designations each fiscal year based on the most current data available at the beginning of the calendar year of computation. The time series used for each economic indicator and fiscal year is listed in the table below.

Fiscal YearMedian Family
Income
Poverty Rate
2021
(Effective Oct. 1, 2020–Sept. 30, 2021)
2014–20182014–2018
2020
(Effective Oct. 1, 2019–Sept. 30, 2020)
2013–20172013–2017
2019
(Effective Oct. 1, 2018–Sept. 30, 2019)
2012–20162012–2016
2018
(Effective Oct. 1, 2017–Sept. 30, 2018)
2011–20152011–2015
2017
(Effective Oct. 1, 2016–Sept. 30, 2017)
2010–20142010–2014
2016
(Effective Oct. 1, 2015–Sept. 30, 2016)
2009–20132009–2013
2015
(Effective Oct. 1, 2014–Sept. 30, 2015
2008–20122008–2012
2014
(Effective Oct. 1, 2013–Sept. 30, 2014)
2007–20112007–2011
2013
(Effective Oct. 1, 2012–Sept. 30, 2013)
2006–20102006–2010
2012
(Effective Oct. 1, 2011–Sept. 30, 2012)
2005–20092005–2009
2011
(Effective Oct. 1, 2010–Sept. 30, 2011)
20002000
2010
(Effective Oct. 1, 2009–Sept. 30, 2010)
20002000
2009
(Effective Oct. 1, 2008–Sept. 30, 2009)
20002000
2008
(Effective Oct. 1, 2007–Sept. 30, 2008)
20002000
2007
(Effective Oct. 1, 2006–Sept. 30, 2007)
20002000