Everybody loves to rank stuff. The NCAA just seeded teams 1-68 for March Madness, for instance (and, incidentally, may your bracket hopes live long and prosper).

But oftentimes rankings neither are useful for comparing things nor predictive of results. Creating an index— AKA, building a composite ranking system — can give much better results, especially when the given index is developed from solid sources with a good, broad set of variables that are weighted logically. All of these critical components come together in our latest data diversion, the Hamilton Project’s Vitality Index, which measure’s a community’s economic and social well-being.

Brought to us by the Brookings Institution, the index uses the following weighted indicators (generally from the 2013-2017 American Community Survey) to generate an index for states and counties across the nation

  • median household income
  • poverty rate
  • unemployment rate
  • prime-age employment-to-population ratio
  • housing vacancy rate
  • life expectancy

Click on the image below to spend time exploring the index for yourself, or see the Brookings’ article “An interactive exploration of the geography of prosperity” to learn more about the background of the project and the insights we can gain from it.