Geo Scores, Population and Poverty

Categories: Commentary, Uncategorized |

January 6, 2014

First and foremost, the entire Lumesis team wishes you and yours a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2014.  The past couple of weeks have afforded many of us the opportunity to visit with family and friends and celebrate holidays and the New Year.  A good reminder to one and all about what is most important.  This week, I offer some perspective around our recently updated Geo Scores for all States, counties and over 325 cities.  We then take a look at Poverty data and State level population trends.  Given the large number of tables, this week’s commentary will print longer than usual – save a tree, read it on your tablet or PC.

Geo Scores – Through December 31, 2013

The DIVER Geo Score represents a relative score of the economic health of a U.S. State, county or city and is calculated from multiple economic and demographic factors related to three primary data categories—employment, income and housing.  The Geo Score is based on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the best and is updated monthly.

State Level Highlights: Maryland and Massachusetts Drop Out of the Top 10 and are Replaced by Minnesota and South Dakota; California and Minnesota are Most Improved

For December, Maryland, which had a monthly decline of 1.6 for its Geo Score, fell from the top ten, suffering from declining Wages and an increase in Poverty.  Massachusetts saw a less significant decline of 0.2 but also relinquished its place in the top ten, while Minnesota, with an increase of 1.4, and South Dakota (+0.8) were added to the top ten.  North Dakota and Washington, D.C. continue with the top Geo Scores amongst the States while California gets the prize for the most improved State year-over-year. California’s significant improvement, from 2.0 to 3.8, is attributed to a significant decrease in Unemployment and Foreclosure Rates and an increase in Housing Prices across the State.  Also noteworthy is the significant Geo Score increase for Colorado and (+1.4), Arizona (+1.2) and Montana, Kansas, Utah, West Virginia and Nevada (+1.0).

Best Locations Score 1 Year Biggest Increase Score Changes
North Dakota 10 California +1.8
District of Columbia 9.8 Minnesota +1.4
Vermont 9.6 Colorado +1.4
Wyoming 9.4 Arizona +1.2
Minnesota 9.2 Montana +1.0
New Hampshire 9.0 Kansas +1.0
South Dakota 8.8 Utah +1.0
Nebraska 8.6 West Virginia +1.0
Virginia 8.4 Nevada +1.0
Hawaii 8.2 South Dakota +0.8

Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia come in with the lowest Geo Scores while Delaware suffered the steepest decline in its score (-3.2)  Delaware’s steep decline was driven primarily by a decline in Wages and an increase in their Poverty and Foreclosure rates.  This was followed by Maryland (-1.6) and New Mexico and Arkansas (-1.4).  States suffering the most significant declines in their Geo Scores saw a decline in their Labor Force Participation Rate and Wages.

Worst Locations Score 1 Year Biggest Decline Score Changes
Mississippi 0 Delaware -3.2
South Carolina 0.2 Maryland -1.6
Georgia 0.4 New Mexico -1.4
Florida 0.6 Arkansas -1.4
Michigan 0.8 Connecticut -1.2
Nevada 1 Mississippi -1
Kentucky 1.2 Kentucky -1
New Mexico 1.4 Virginia -0.8
Ohio 1.6 Tennessee -0.6
Arkansas 1.8 Louisiana -0.6

County Level Highlights: NY and CO Counties (Two Each) Join CA Dominated List of Most Improved; 5 of the 10 Biggest Decliners Hail from the Mid-Atlantic States

Nine of the top ten Geo Score counties come from the Roughrider State of North Dakota. Counties with the most significant increases in their Geo Score came from New York, Colorado and California, which all experienced positive trending decreases in Unemployment, Poverty and Foreclosure rates, as well as positive trending Housing Price Indices.

Best Locations Score Best Locations Score Changes
Williams, ND 10.0 Cattaraugus, NY +5.9
Slope, ND 10.0 Dolores, CO +5.1
Dunn, ND 10.0 Placer, CA +4.3
McKenzie, ND 10.0 Nevada, CA +3.9
Mountrail, ND 10.0 El Dorado, CA +3.9
Stark, ND 10.0 Adams, CO +3.8
Divide, ND 10.0 Shasta, CA +3.6
Burke, ND 10.0 Sonoma, CA +3.5
Midland, TX 10.0 Napa, CA +3.4
Billings, ND 10.0 Jefferson, NY +3.3

Eight of the top ten counties with the greatest decline experienced a decrease in Wages and seven saw a decrease in their Labor Force Participation Rate.  Five counties in this group also saw a rise in their Poverty Rate.

Worst Locations Score 1 Year Biggest Decline Score Changes
Yuma, AZ 0.0 Sabine, TX -6.0
Telfair, GA 0.0 Buena Vista, VA -5.5
Hancock, GA 0.0 Charles, MD -5.1
Jenkins, GA 0.0 Kent, DE -4.4
Flagler, FL 0.0 Piute, UT -4.0
Kent, DE 0.0 Calvert, MD -3.7
Butts, GA 0.0 Louisa, IA -3.7
Apache, AZ 0.0 Monroe, PA -3.5
Crowley, CO 0.0 Sierra, CA -3.2
Stewart, GA 0.0 Sandoval, NM -3.1

City Level Highlights: California Dominates the Top Ten Cities and Nine of the Ten Biggest Increases

This month’s top ten city Geo Scores saw Midland, TX retake the number one spot.  For the Top Ten Geo Score increases at the city level, all saw an increase in their Housing Price Index as well as a decline in Foreclosure Rates, and all saw declines in Unemployment.  California had 15 of the 25 top movers for cities driven primarily by declining Unemployment, Poverty and Foreclosure Rates and an increase in Housing Prices.

Best Locations Score 1 Year Biggest Increase Score Changes
Midland, TX 10.0 Redding, CA +3.3
Odessa, TX 10.0 Riverside, CA +2.4
Palo Alto, CA 10.0 Temecula, CA +2.4
Mountain View, CA 9.9 Roseville, CA +2.1
Alexandria, VA 9.9 Ontario, CA +2.0
Sunnyvale, CA 9.9 Santa Rosa, CA +1.9
Walnut Creek, CA 9.8 Oxnard, CA +1.8
San Mateo, CA 9.8 Melbourne, FL +1.8
Newton, MA 9.8 Hayward, CA +1.7
Torrance, CA 9.7 Vallejo, CA +1.7

Significant turnover occurred in the Ten Worst cities, with the following new entrants of Rockford, IL, Toledo, OH, Yuma, AZ and Yuba, CA.  For cities with the steepest declines in Geo Scores, declining Wages and Labor Force Participation played a significant factor while increased Poverty and Foreclosure Rates plagued six of the bottom ten.

Worst Locations Score 1 Year Biggest Decline Score Changes
Flint, MI 0.0 Peoria, IL -3.5
Palm Coast, FL 0.0 Bridgeport, CT -3.4
Detroit, MI 0.0 Decatur, IL -2.9
Victorville, CA 0.1 Joliet, IL -2.4
Youngstown, OH 0.1 Warner Robins, GA -2.2
Rockford, IL 0.1 Clarksville, TN -2.2
Toledo, OH 0.2 Baltimore, MD -2.1
Yuma, AZ 0.2 Des Moines, IA -2.1
Camden, NJ 0.2 Portsmouth, VA -2.0
Yuba, CA 0.3 Little Rock, AR -1.9

For more information or to see a full list of DIVER Geo Scores for the current month, please visit our website at

Poverty – Less is More

Last week, the US Census Bureau released their annual Poverty data and, while 20 States saw an increase in the Poverty Rate  from 2011, 32 held steady or saw a decline.   Amongst the counties, only 1,533 counties saw an increase in the Poverty Rate while 1,615 were flat or saw a decline in the Poverty Rate (how’s that for glass half full).  While that doesn’t mean things are peachy for all, it is a trend better than what we have seen in the recent past.  As the below map shows, the majority of the States still have Poverty rates between 10% and 19%.


Population Shifts – Think of the Impact

Before the stroke of midnight, the Census Bureau released their projected Population figures for the States (projected because the census is done once every ten years) as of July 1, 2013.  Overall, it is projected (I wont say that again, it being understood that the reported data is projected) that the US population grew by less than 1% and that, other than Maine, West Virginia and Puerto Rico, every State and DC saw growth.  Percentage-wise, the largest growth came, not unexpectedly, from North Dakota with DC at number two (and they say the Federal government isn’t growing!) – both locations were the only ones sporting a percentage increase greater than 2%.

As we look ahead, the impact on Labor Force Participation Rates in conjunction with the above will be meaningful as well the Employed as a Percent of Population.  Expect to see some changes when the December data comes out.  I also am looking forward to the breakdown on population by age group to better understand the dynamics of the dependent population to the working population.

While we were gone the past couple of weeks, a fair amount of data was released – much of which you will most certainly find meaningful.  To address your insatiable appetite to know, the below list of “Data Released” goes back to December 16.

Have a great week,


Michael Craft, CFA, Managing Director, Credit
Lumesis, Inc.


CLICK HERE to Subscribe to the Weekly Commentary