Rowan County and surrounding areas were named distressed or at-risk by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The ARC’s County Economic Status Designations for Fiscal Year 2020 report was released in June.

A distressed county is in the top 10% of the nation’s most economically depressed areas. At-risk counties are between 10% and 25%. According to the ARC, Rowan County’s rank has lowered since last year’s report.

Rowan County is part of the ARC’s Appalachian Region, a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states including Kentucky. The Region includes 420 counties.

The economic status of each county is determined based on per capita market income combined with the previous three-year average jobless rate and the previous five-year poverty rates.

With this data, each county is classified into one of the five economic designations.

The county had slowly been making progress until it started to steadily decline in fiscal year 2017.

According to the report, Rowan County has a higher unemployment rate and poverty rate than the national average, and the per capita market income is $19,899, or $22,962 less than the national average of $42,861.

While the average income has increased since fiscal year 2019, so has poverty and unemployment, moving Rowan County from at-risk to distressed.

For surrounding counties, Bath, Carter, Menifee, Elliott, Lewis and Morgan were marked as distressed. Fleming County was split in half between distressed and at-risk, with the distressed side bordering Rowan County.

Rowan, Bath, Menifee and Elliott counties were ranked lower this year while Lewis, Morgan, Carter and Fleming counties improved from fiscal year 2019.

To see more of Rowan County’s statistics, visit www.arc.gov.

Daneyl Tackett can be reached at dtackett@themoreheadnews.com or by telephone at 784-4116.