Community Development:

Identification of Economically Distressed Areas

RCED-98-158R: Published: May 12, 1998. Publicly Released: May 12, 1998.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified economically distressed areas that could qualify for assistance under H.R. 1031, focusing on areas that have: (1) a poverty rate of at least 20 percent; and (2) an unemployment rate that is at least 1.5 times the national unemployment rate.

GAO noted that: (1) 9,184 census tracts meet both the criteria for economic distress, including 1,354 census tracts in rural areas; 7,396 in urban areas; and 434 in mixed urban/rural areas; (2) fourteen percent of these census tracts are located in an existing federal empowerment zone or an enterprise community; and (3) GAO also found that the census tracts that meet both the criteria for economic distress are located in the District of Columbia and 1,373 counties among all 50 states.

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