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
John L. Micek
John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.


  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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