Irvine is nation’s 3rd most-prosperous large city while Hemet ranks 8th most-distressed small town – Orange County Register

While thumbing through a new study tying limited regional economic success to diminished well-being across the nation, I stumbled upon this local nugget:

Irvine ranked as the third most-prosperous city among the nation’s 100 largest, according to the Economic Innovation Group’s math. Conversely, Hemet was ranked eighth-worst among small cities.

This think tank’s research combined federal government and U.S. Census Bureau economic and demographic benchmarks, through 2015, to show “place-based disparities in the American economic experience.”

High among economic winners was also Gilbert, Ariz. (No. 1), and Plano, Texas (No. 2). Two other California cities — San Francisco (5th) and San Jose (8th) — made the largest cities’ Top 10.

But the same scorecard saw Hemet as the eighth most-distressed small town nationwide and Stockton as the eighth worst large city.

These rankings were not just another “listicle” designed to titillate or celebrate success. The data-heavy yardstick meant to show disparate life in the nation, featuring a “distressed communities index” dividing ZIP codes nationwide into five ranked slices. The highest 20 percent were dubbed “prosperous” and the bottom “distressed.”

Irvine, for example, had 81 percent of its residents ranked as prosperous. And, by the way, California’s 45th congressional district, centered around Irvine, ranked sixth nationally for prosperity when the study was sliced by House of Representative communities.

Hemet got its low ranking because, among other factors, the study showed 100 percent of its residents in distressed conditions. Youngstown, Ohio, was the most-distressed small town.

As for big cities, California’s Stockton made the bottom 10 with 70 percent of its residents in distressed ZIP codes. Cleveland ranked last among the giants with a distress level of 90 percent.

By this metric, Southern California scored reasonably well at the county level. Orange County was ranked prosperous, Los Angeles and Riverside counties were second-tier “comfortable,” and San Bernardino County was in the third “mid-tier” rankings.

These regional rankings are in line with pollster Gallup’s survey-based well-being index that scores economic, demographic and health factors: Its latest report put L.A.-O.C. and the Inland Empire in the second-highest quintile.

Yes, there’s work to be done locally. For example, L.A. County did have the nation’s second-largest number of people living…

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