These are the most — and least — prosperous places to live in Pennsylvania | The Numbers Racket

Map by The Hamilton Project

It’s been about ten years since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009. And by most measures, America’s economy is humming along at a pretty good clip.

But, as recent research by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution demonstrates, not every part of the United States has shared equally in that return to prosperity.

In fact, nearly a decade after the Great Recession’s end, “prime-age employment rates are 16 percentage points lower in the bottom quintile of counties compared to those at the top. This gap is equivalent to bottom-quintile counties facing three Great Recession declines relative to top counties—a stark measure of the varying employment opportunities and outcomes that Americans face depending on their location,” researchers recently concluded.

An interactive map put together by the Hamilton Project allows users to track, down to the state and county level, how prosperity varies across the U.S. The map you see above is based on what the Hamilton Project describes as as a “Prosperity Index,” which combines such factors as a “county’s median household income, poverty rate, unemployment rate, prime-age employment rate, life expectancy, and housing vacancy rate.”

In the map at the top of this story, “blue counties have higher vitality scores and yellow counties have lower scores. The darker colored counties have higher populations,” researchers noted.

For this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket, we’re taking a dive into the Pennsylvania data to find the 10 most — and least — prosperous counties in the Keystone State.

The Top 10 Most Prosperous, based on their Prosperity Index Score:

  1. Chester County: 1.6233
  2. Montgomery County: 1.385
  3. Bucks County: 1.2717
  4. Cumberland County: 0.7063
  5. Butler County: 0.6004
  6. Adams County: 0.5412
  7. Delaware County: 0.5122
  8. Lancaster County: 0.4692
  9. York County: 0.3855
  10. Perry County: 0.3397

The Top 10 Least Prosperous, based on their Prosperity Index Score:

    1. Forest County: -2.4513
    2. Philadelphia: -1.52235
    3. Fayette County: -1.0807
    4. Potter County: -0.9204
    5. Sullivan County: -0.8922
    6. McKean County: -0.8306
    7. Clarion County: -0.7351
    8. Cambria County: -0.6288
    9. Greene County: -0.6266
    10. Wayne: -0.58
An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.


  1. If they got a auto plant in one of the Rule areas in Pennsylvania like in Crawford County it might help the Economy there. The thing is to figure out a way to bring more jobs and revenue to the areas with the least money.


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