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The Community Index measures US counties in investment, talent, sustainability, place, and diversity to help evaluate community vibrancy. We know these indicators are signs that communities and economies are growing stronger.


We are in the process of updating the Community Index with new data. The current version presents the pandemic conditions (2019 data).


What are your community's strengths?

About the Index

The Community Index began in 2012 as an effort of our team to document key indicators and predictors of community vibrancy and economic strength. Each year we update and run a model, and we publish lists of high-scoring areas, organized by population size. In 2018, we developed this app to allow others to see how our Community Index model ranks counties across the country. In 2020, we updated the Community Index model to include new and updated sources of data with a greater focus on equity. We are in the process of updating the Community Index with new data. The current version presents the pre-COVID-19 conditions. 

The Index model incorporates 20 different indicators in the areas of Investment, Talent, Sustainability, Place, and Diversity. While we know there is no single recipe for economic success, we also know that these five areas are critical ingredients in vibrant and equitable communities everywhere. What do we mean by each of these?

  • Investment: a productive regional economy with active businesses and diverse business ownership

  • Talent: a skilled workforce, with access to education and high-wage jobs for all residents

  • Sustainability: a resilient community and economy with a mix of industries, sustainable infrastructure, and a healthy population

  • Place: an active and affordable community that provides a high quality of life for all residents

  • Diversity: an equitable community where people of different races and ethnic backgrounds want to live and everyone benefits from economic prosperity

Indicators in these five areas are combined through a mathematical model to produce an overall score. Comparisons to counties within the same state, within the same region, and with similar population size are included on the dashboard for benchmarking.

How to Use the Index

We see the Fourth Economy Community Index as a starting point for communities—providing residents, public officials, community organizations, and other stakeholders with a baseline to help understand where they are doing well and see where there is room for improvement.

A few examples of how we envision you using information from the Community Index:

  • To lead community discussions or inform key stakeholders about areas of relative strength and weakness in a region or community

  • When developing an RFP for a project that utilizes the strengths or addresses the needs identified in this model for a particular region or community

  • To compare one place to others, through our the Compare Scores page or the Top Ten page, to identify where other communities might offer successful examples


If you’d like to delve deeper, please contact Fourth Economy to see if we can help. Many of our most interesting projects stem from conversations with communities about where they are and where they want to be. Our specialty, though, is developing strategies to help communities achieve their goals. We’d love to talk to see if we can help. Get in touch!

Community Index Insights

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