To be deemed distressed, counties and parishes must meet the following criteria:
- An unemployment rate of one percent higher (5.8+ percent) than the national average (4.8 percent) for the most recent 24-month period (November 2020-October 2022).
- Have a per capita income of 80 percent or less of the most recent national per capita income level (2021) of $64,143.
Isolated areas are within a non-distressed county or parish that are not experiencing the same level of economic success as the rest of the region. This phenomenon is due to a variety of reasons, such as a lack of access to resources or economic development opportunities. Isolated areas have lower economic prospects, outcomes, and outlook compared to the overall county or parish. Because these particular isolated areas are found within areas of higher economic success, the nuanced and particular strategies needed to have an impact may be different. For example, an isolated area within a county or parish may be a neighborhood that is not connected to the city’s key economic centers and resources, resulting in limited access to opportunities and growth. This can also happen to a specific group of people within an area that is not benefiting from the same economic growth as the rest of the area.
Statutorily, the DRA is required to both identify and provide support to these unique areas of distress. As they may require special interventions or policies to help close the economic gap. Innovative strategy can help ensure that the county/parish’s growth and development is inclusive and reaches everyone. Further, their challenges may impede overall growth for the county/parish and region overall, due to the social consequences that haunt a struggling community. Social isolation such as having limited access to business/industry, workforce development, a strong healthcare system, and general lack of community development opportunity.
To analyze these isolated areas, the Delta Regional Authority utilized census tracts within a non-distressed area and assessed them along measures that indicate their economic level relative to differ from the overall economic level of the non-distressed region. The Delta Regional Authority used two different measures to ascertain the economic level of a census tract: distress and poverty.
To assess whether an area was distressed or not, the following criteria had to be met:
- If the unemployment rate of the census tract within a non-distressed county or parish is 1% higher than the national rate of 5.5% over the past 12 months.
- If the Per Capita Income (PCI) of the census tract within the county or parish is 80% or less than the national PCI of $38,332 over the past 12 months.