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Mitchell improves in ARC ratings

County moves up from ‘at-risk’ to ‘transitional’

The Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, has released its County Economic Status Designations for the Fiscal Year 2020, which annually ranks the economic status of each of the Region’s 420 counties using national data. 

Eighty counties will be considered distressed, ranking among the worst 10 percent of counties in the nation; 110 counties will be considered at-risk, ranking between the worst 10–25 percent of counties in the country; 217 counties will be considered transitional, ranking between worst 25 and best 25 best of counties in the nation; 10 counties will be regarded as competitive, ranking between best 25 and best 10 percent of counties in the country; and three counties will be considered attainment, ranking among the best 10 percent of counties in the nation.

Mitchell County was considered at-risk in 2019 but has moved up to transitional for 2020. Transitional counties are those transitioning between strong and weak economies and make up the largest economic status designation.

“I think the progress in Mitchell County can be attributed to entrepreneurial growth and development and the overall economic environment in the United States,” said Mickey Duvall, executive director of the Mitchell County Economic Development Commission. “There is no doubt the economic environment in Mitchell County will continue to improve. We are moving in the right direction in terms of economic development.”

Economic indicators used to classify counties are the three-year average unemployment rate, the per-capita market income and the poverty rate. 

The three-year average unemployment rate measures long-term structural unemployment. The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the three-year sum of persons unemployed by the three-year sum of the civilian labor force and expressing the result as a percentage.

Per capita market income is calculated by dividing total personal income, less transfer payments, by population. Transfer payments include retirement and disability insurance benefit payments, medical payments, income maintenance benefit payments, unemployment insurance benefit payments, veteran benefit payments and other such payments.

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.

ARC’s County Economic Status Designation for Fiscal Year 2020 also found FY 2020 will have the lowest number of designated distressed counties in Appalachia since 2008 and 29 Appalachian counties across right states experienced positive shifts in the economic status since FY 2019. This primarily includes counties in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, which each have five or more counties experiencing positive economic status shifts.

Eighteen Appalachian counties will experience negative shifts in their economic status since FY 2019. This primary includes coal impacted counties in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“Parts of the Appalachian Region face significant economic challenges compared to the rest of the country, and by releasing this data publicly in an accessible format, ARC is seeking to ensure awareness of these challenges and to inform policymakers at all levels,” said Tim Thomas, ARC federal co-chair. “ARC and our state partners use this data to direct critical investments toward distressed areas, and I am pleased to see net improvements in many parts of the Region compared to previous years.”

The MItchell News

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