Nationally, about 31 million people—nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population—have no access to broadband, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission, leaving them at risk of falling behind in the modern information economy. Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development says that the digital divide—the gap between high-speed internet haves and have-nots—is the No. 1 threat to community economic development in the 21st century. This new index, created by Purdue researchers, assigns scores from 0 to 100 to counties and census tracts across the nation, with 100 indicating the highest digital divide.
What factors influence economic growth and development in small and midsized cities? This updated interactive tool and data set from the Atlanta Fed allows users to explore this question. The latest version of the index comprises 13 indicators across four categories (demographics, economics, human and social capital, and infrastructure) and includes data on 400 metro- and micropolitan areas with populations between 50,000 and 500,000. The index enables policymakers and practitioners to examine local trends and compare cities across several measures of economic dynamism.