American Dream: It could be dead in these US cities and counties

Jan 22, 2020 by

Fewer Americans’ incomes will surpass that of their parents, research shows. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on 50 counties where income has fallen most.

It used to be that the vast majority of children ended up earning more than their parents. Today, however, the situation is considerably different. According to recent research on intergenerational mobility, approximately 90% of those born in the 1940s earned more than their parents, while only about 50% of those born in the 1980s do.

The Equality of Opportunity Project – now part of the Opportunity Insights program at Harvard University – considered average incomes of 26-year-olds raised in the bottom quartile of income in 2,973 U.S. counties and county equivalents (such as parishes, boroughs, census areas, and certain cities). A 26-year-old from this background who earns more than the national average for the bottom quartile is said to have managed upward income mobility.

The researchers found that neighborhood environments have substantial effects on children’s long-term economic outcomes. The probability of earning in adulthood more than $26,090 – the average annual income for the bottom quartile nationally – declines every year of childhood spent in nearly 1,000 low-income counties. To highlight the substantial geographic variation of this pattern, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 50 counties and county equivalents where the average income losses are greatest.

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Children growing up in counties with less concentrated poverty, less income inequality, better schools, a larger share of two-parent families, and lower crime rates are significantly more likely to surpass their parents later in life. The counties where the American dream is dead include some of the worst counties to live in.

Macon County, Alabama.

50. Macon County, Alabama

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $201

• 2018 population: 19,054

• Household income per capita: $24,917

• Poverty rate: 25.8%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.5%

• Largest city or municipality: Tuskegee

49. Early County, Georgia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $201

• 2018 population: 10,348

• Household income per capita: $30,163

• Poverty rate: 28.8%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.4%

• Largest city or municipality: Blakely

48. Fairfield County, South Carolina

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $202

• 2018 population: 22,712

• Household income per capita: $28,030

• Poverty rate: 22.9%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.3%

• Largest city or municipality: Winnsboro

47. Rolette County, North Dakota

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $202

• 2018 population: 14,603

• Household income per capita: $22,565

• Poverty rate: 29.3%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 6.8%

• Largest city or municipality: Belcourt

46. Atlantic County, New Jersey

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $203

• 2018 population: 268,539

• Household income per capita: $38,869

• Poverty rate: 14.3%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 4.7%

• Largest city or municipality: Atlantic City

45. Hoke County, North Carolina

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $203

• 2018 population: 53,239

• Household income per capita: $24,807

• Poverty rate: 21%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 4.5%

• Largest city or municipality: Raeford

44. East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $203

• 2018 population: 444,094

• Household income per capita: $35,064

• Poverty rate: 18.3%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 4.4%

• Largest city or municipality: Baton Rouge

43. Spalding County, Georgia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $203

• 2018 population: 64,719

• Household income per capita: $31,155

• Poverty rate: 21.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.1%

• Largest city or municipality: Griffin

42. Greene County, Alabama

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $204

• 2018 population: 8,426

• Household income per capita: $27,644

• Poverty rate: 38.7%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 4.7%

• Largest city or municipality: Eutaw

Baldwin County, Georgia.

41. Baldwin County, Georgia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $204

• 2018 population: 45,286

• Household income per capita: $26,337

• Poverty rate: 26.2%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.8%

• Largest city or municipality: Milledgeville

40. Guilford County, North Carolina

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $205

• 2018 population: 523,582

• Household income per capita: $41,339

• Poverty rate: 15.9%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.6%

• Largest city or municipality: Greensboro

39. Terrell County, Georgia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $205

• 2018 population: 8,859

• Household income per capita: $26,851

• Poverty rate: 31.9%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.4%

• Largest city or municipality: Dawson

38. Crittenden County, Arkansas

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $206

• 2018 population: 49,013

• Household income per capita: $27,744

• Poverty rate: 22.2%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.6%

• Largest city or municipality: West Memphis

37. Gadsden County, Florida

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $208

• 2018 population: 46,017

• Household income per capita: $25,763

• Poverty rate: 24.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.6%

• Largest city or municipality: Quincy

36. Sumter County, Georgia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $208

• 2018 population: 30,352

• Household income per capita: $28,432

• Poverty rate: 27.8%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 4%

• Largest city or municipality: Americus

35. East Carroll Parish, Louisiana

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $210

• 2018 population: 7,225

• Household income per capita: $18,062

• Poverty rate: 48.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 10.7%

• Largest city or municipality: Lake Providence

34. Robeson County, North Carolina

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $212

• 2018 population: 133,442

• Household income per capita: $24,221

• Poverty rate: 28.1%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 4.9%

• Largest city or municipality: Lumberton

33. Hancock County, Georgia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $214

• 2018 population: 8,535

• Household income per capita: $17,928

• Poverty rate: 24.1%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 5.3%

• Largest city or municipality: Sparta

32. Quitman County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $214

• 2018 population: 7,372

• Household income per capita: $22,166

• Poverty rate: 35.5%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 8.1%

• Largest city or municipality: Marks

31. Grenada County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $215

• 2018 population: 21,278

• Household income per capita: $26,818

• Poverty rate: 24.5%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 5%

• Largest city or municipality: Grenada

St. Louis, Missouri.

30. St. Louis city, Missouri

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $216

• 2018 population: 311,273

• Household income per capita: $30,072

• Poverty rate: 24.2%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.5%

• Largest city or municipality: St. Louis

29. Genesee County, Michigan

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $217

• 2018 population: 409,361

• Household income per capita: $38,963

• Poverty rate: 19.8%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.8%

• Largest city or municipality: Flint

28. Washington County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $218

• 2018 population: 47,086

• Household income per capita: $26,530

• Poverty rate: 33.3%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 8%

• Largest city or municipality: Greenville

27. Scotland County, North Carolina

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $219

• 2018 population: 35,262

• Household income per capita: $29,071

• Poverty rate: 27.7%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 6.1%

• Largest city or municipality: Laurinburg

26. Oktibbeha County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $219

• 2018 population: 49,481

• Household income per capita: $24,040

• Poverty rate: 30%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 5.7%

• Largest city or municipality: Starkville

25. Bolivar County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $223

• 2018 population: 32,592

• Household income per capita: $22,311

• Poverty rate: 34.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 7.3%

• Largest city or municipality: Cleveland

24. Sunflower County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $228

• 2018 population: 26,532

• Household income per capita: $18,895

• Poverty rate: 31.5%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 9.7%

• Largest city or municipality: Indianola

23. Allendale County, South Carolina

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $229

• 2018 population: 9,214

• Household income per capita: $21,262

• Poverty rate: 26.8%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.9%

• Largest city or municipality: Allendale

22. Tallahatchie County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $230

• 2018 population: 14,361

• Household income per capita: $21,421

• Poverty rate: 30.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 5.5%

• Largest city or municipality: Charleston

21. Nome Census Area, Alaska

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $230

• 2018 population: 9,925

• Household income per capita: $29,589

• Poverty rate: 23.1%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 9.5%

• Largest city or municipality: Nome

20. Big Horn County, Montana

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $230

• 2018 population: 13,376

• Household income per capita: $20,646

• Poverty rate: 26.2%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 6.7%

• Largest city or municipality: Hardin

Roanoke, Virginia.

19. Roanoke City, Virginia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $233

• 2018 population: 99,621

• Household income per capita: $34,745

• Poverty rate: 20.5%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 2.7%

• Largest city or municipality: Roanoke

18. Dewey County, South Dakota

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $235

• 2018 population: 5,779

• Household income per capita: $19,529

• Poverty rate: 30.2%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 7.5%

• Largest city or municipality: North Eagle Butte

17. Hinds County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $235

• 2018 population: 241,774

• Household income per capita: $32,627

• Poverty rate: 22.2%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 5.2%

• Largest city or municipality: Jackson

16. Leflore County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $236

• 2018 population: 29,804

• Household income per capita: $23,465

• Poverty rate: 39.2%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 7.3%

• Largest city or municipality: Greenwood

15. Richmond City, Virginia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $240

• 2018 population: 223,787

• Household income per capita: $35,536

• Poverty rate: 24.5%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 2.9%

• Largest city or municipality: Richmond

14. Clarke County, Georgia

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $242

• 2018 population: 124,602

• Household income per capita: $26,220

• Poverty rate: 31.3%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 2.6%

• Largest city or municipality: Athens-Clarke County

13. Claiborne County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $242

• 2018 population: 9,120

• Household income per capita: $19,485

• Poverty rate: 44%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 10.6%

• Largest city or municipality: Port Gibson

12. Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $245

• 2018 population: 8,198

• Household income per capita: $19,557

• Poverty rate: 40.5%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: N/A

• Largest city or municipality: N/A

11. McKinley County, New Mexico

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $248

• 2018 population: 72,849

• Household income per capita: $19,744

• Poverty rate: 36%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 6.6%

• Largest city or municipality: Gallup

Tunica County, Mississippi.

10. Tunica County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $249

• 2018 population: 10,170

• Household income per capita: $22,618

• Poverty rate: 21.9%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 5.8%

• Largest city or municipality: Tunica

9. Humphreys County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $254

• 2018 population: 8,539

• Household income per capita: $21,846

• Poverty rate: 38.1%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 9.8%

• Largest city or municipality: Belzoni

8. Glacier County, Montana

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $263

• 2018 population: 13,699

• Household income per capita: $23,252

• Poverty rate: 33.3%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 7.3%

• Largest city or municipality: Cut Bank

7. Coahoma County, Mississippi

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $273

• 2018 population: 23,802

• Household income per capita: $25,675

• Poverty rate: 34%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 7.1%

• Largest city or municipality: Clarksdale

6. Orleans Parish, Louisiana

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $276

• 2018 population: 389,648

• Household income per capita: $31,246

• Poverty rate: 24.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 4.8%

• Largest city or municipality: New Orleans

5. Forsyth County, North Carolina

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $286

• 2018 population: 371,573

• Household income per capita: $41,647

• Poverty rate: 17.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.3%

• Largest city or municipality: Winston-Salem

4. Menominee County, Wisconsin

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $313

• 2018 population: 4,579

• Household income per capita: $21,942

• Poverty rate: 32.6%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 7.3%

• Largest city or municipality: Keshena

3. Sioux County, North Dakota

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $318

• 2018 population: 4,413

• Household income per capita: $16,103

• Poverty rate: 36.5%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 3.2%

• Largest city or municipality: Cannon Ball

2. Todd County, South Dakota

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $441

• 2018 population: 10,146

• Household income per capita: $16,641

• Poverty rate: 55.1%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: 6.5%

• Largest city or municipality: Rosebud

Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota.

1. Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota

• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: $484

• 2018 population: 14,335

• Household income per capita: $13,647

• Poverty rate: 49.3%

• Nov. 2019 unemployment rate: N/A

• Largest city or municipality: N/A

Methodology

To identify the counties where the American dream is dead, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the effect on household income earned in adulthood for every year of childhood spent in 2,973 U.S. counties and county equivalents from data published by The Equality of Opportunity Project. Researchers at the organization used data from 1996-2012 tax returns to study the long-term economic outcomes of approximately 50 million children.

Source: American Dream: It could be dead in these US cities and counties

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