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The Great Recession's uneven recovery

America's economy is booming, with stocks setting new records and unemployment hitting its lowest monthly marks since 2000. But the spoils have not been evenly distributed.

The bottom line: The line between financial success and stagnation can often be drawn on a map.

Economic opportunity is tied to location, more than ever before, according to a county-by-county report last year from the nonprofit Economic Innovation Group.

  • New jobs are clustered in the economy's best-off places, leaving one of every four new jobs for the bottom 60% of zip codes.
  • Most of today's distressed communities saw zero net gains in employment and business establishment since 2000. In fact, more than half have seen net losses on both fronts.
  • Half of adults living in distressed zip codes are attempting to find gainful employment in the modern economy armed with only a high school education at best.

America's labor force also has become increasingly dependent on large companies, thus narrowing geographic diversity and, arguably, keeping a lid on wage growth.

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