National Trends


The overall Opportunity Score for the nation for 2018 is 53.1 out of 100, an increase of 0.6 points (1.2%) since 2017, driven by improvements in the Economy, Education, and Community dimensions.

4.6% increase in the ECONOMY dimension
1.5% increase in the EDUCATION dimension
1.8% increase in the COMMUNITY dimension

                             2.8% decrease in the HEALTH dimension

For a snapshot of each dimension, visit the 2018 Opportunity Index resources page

In a large majority (83.2%) of counties where changes could be calculated, opportunity increased from 2017 – 2018. In 2018, 18 counties received a grade of A (three more than in 2017), while the number of counties receiving an F decreased substantially from 18 to seven.

Similar to prior years, the states with the highest levels of opportunity tend to be clustered in the Northeast and Midwest. Of the 10 highest-ranking states, four are in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and four in the Midwest (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota); Washington state, and New Jersey hold the ninth and 10th spots, respectively.

Opportunity remains segregated by race and ethnicity. The 59 counties with an A or A- Opportunity Grade are, on average, 78 percent white and just 5 percent black. In contrast, the counties receiving a grade of D- or F are, on average, 55 percent white and 13 percent black.

For the first time since the Index’s inception, we are sharing (for select indicators at the national level), breakdowns of the data by race/ethnicity and gender in order to highlight the uneven distribution of opportunity in our nation.


For states, high incarceration rates remain the indicator most associated with lower opportunity,
followed closely by poverty and youth disconnection.

For counties, the percentage of the population
with an associate degree or higher is most associated with opportunity (followed by the percentage of
disconnected youth and the median household income); these were also the indicators most strongly correlated with overall opportunity in last year’s Index. The consistency of these findings reinforces the multifaceted nature of opportunity, as the indicators most closely associated with opportunity span both dimensions and generations.