May 3, 2017
April 2017 DIVER Geo Scores: Top and Bottom Movers
This week we bring you the April 2017 DIVER Geo Scores and take a look at our top and bottom movers in Geo Scores and how these locations have fared over the past two years. Depending on your feedback, this may become part of our monthly review.
DIVER Geo Scores are designed to quickly communicate the overall economic health of a selected geographic area on a scale of 0 to 10. The Geo Score reflects the relative economic well-being of the location and is available for all States, counties, and approximately 350 of the largest cities. Calculations are released monthly and are based on multiple, meaningful economic and demographic data from the employment, income and housing categories.
State Level Geo Scores
At the State level, our top ten movers include two States of significant economic impact to the overall US economy – California (+0.8) and Florida (+1.2). Florida saw improved employment data (unemployment down and labor force up), wages up and poverty down and solid housing data while California saw solid improvements across the employment, income and housing sectors. Of the most improved States, Indiana logged the greatest improvement in the employment area with a strong decline in unemployment and a flat labor force. Five States (Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, California and Georgia) saw significant declines in their poverty rates and all States in this category saw solid housing data.
Among our States with the greatest decline in their Geo Score, New Jersey saw a significant decline of 3.2 influenced, in part, by relatively poor housing data, a slight decline in their labor force participation and a very marginal increase in wages. Other factors of note in this group are the increase in unemployment in Texas, declining labor forces in New Jersey, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas; a decline in wages in Wyoming and increasing poverty in Arkansas and Idaho.
County Level Geo Scores
Among county top movers, Linn and Klamath Counties, OR, Lake County and Butte Counties in CA, Johnson County, IN and Taylor County, FL all saw improvements in all data categories (employment, income and housing) this month. Mineral County, NV saw outstanding improvement in its employment picture, showing a significant decline in unemployment and a strong increase in its labor force. A number of counties in the top movers also saw significant declines (>3%) in their poverty rates and all saw solid housing data.
The county level bottom movers are dominated, not surprisingly based on the State’s Geo Score, by six New Jersey counties. In county level bottom movers, Cortland, NY stands out for a declining employment picture and a significant decline in wages. As noted last month, we remain concerned about housing prices and overall housing data. Even among the counties with the most significant declines in their Geo Score, we continue to see rising housing prices (either the economy is truly getting stronger in these areas or might we be looking at a bubble).
City Level Geo Scores
At the city level, Florida and Washington saw their cities dominate the top Geo Score positive moves this month while Texas cities had the dubious distinction of seeing five cities with the most significant decline in Geo Scores this month. As noted above, the continued increase in housing prices (even among this group) raises an eyebrow and should be of continued interest where we see otherwise deteriorating relative economic conditions.
This month, we also take a look at our top and bottom Geo Score moves at the State and city level and provide a view of these locations looking at their quarterly Geo Scores over the past two years (the graphs do not reflect April’s move).
Have a great week.
Gregg Bienstock and Jane Ma