Census Analysis Finds Appalachian Region Experiencing Positive Economic Growth Before COVID Crisis

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) released the 10th annual version of the The Appalachian Region: A Data Overview from the 2014–2018 American Community Survey, also known as “The Chartbook.”  The report draws on the American Community Survey and comparable Census Population Estimates available as of 2018 to present over 300,000 data points about Appalachia’s demographics, income, employment, as well as education, computer access, housing, transportation and other indicators—all presented at the regional, subregional, state, and county level with comparisons to the rest of the nation.

“The Chartbook relies on data collected from Census sources, illustrating the importance of full, accurate Census participation in our region. I encourage all Appalachians to complete the Census form, and do their part to inform ARC investments,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “This annual ARC report, defining and illuminating the most important economic and demographic data and trends in our Region, provides critical information to policymakers and stakeholders seeking to contribute to Appalachia’s growth.”

The Chartbook indicates that before the COVID-19 crisis, the Region was experiencing positive economic growth, although continued to lag behind the rest of the nation. For instance:

  • Median household income in Appalachia rose 5 percent to $49,747 in 2014–2018 but remained at only 83 percent of the national average.
  • Since 2009–2013, the share of Appalachian residents in poverty fell 1.2 percentage points to 15.8 percent in 2014–2018, yet remained 1.7 percentage points higher than the national average.
  • The share of Appalachia’s working-age adults ages 25 and over in the Region with at least a bachelor’s degree rose 2.2 percentage points since 2009–2013 to 25.7 percent. Despite this increase, the share of available working-age adults in Appalachia with a bachelor’s degree or more was 7.2 percentage points below the national average in 2014–2018.

The Chartbook can be a useful tool in benchmarking economic developments as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

The U.S. Census is currently underway. Get counted here.