Those of you who watched the State of the Union address last night know that President Obama spent some time, as usual, crowing about his economic record. To my surprise, he mentioned the “Great Recession” only once, but he spent plenty of time talking about how the economy has grown during his term is office. As you might expect, these words need to be taken with a grain of salt. A recent study from the National Association of Counties (NACO) provides more evidence to support our suspicions. According to their study, across all of the United States’ 3069 counties that have their own county government, only 214, or 7%, of them have recovered to pre-Recession levels on all four of their indicators, jobs, unemployment rate, GDP recovery, and home prices. That means 2882 of the counties NACO considered have yet to do so. From their report:
By 2015, 214 county economies recovered to their pre-recession levels on all four indicators analyzed, almost three times more than by 2014. Most of these county economies are in Texas, Nebraska and Kansas. For the first time, 17 of the 126 large county economies — in counties with more than 500,000 residents — are part of this group. The majority are in California and Texas.
Overall, the county economies recovered on all four indicators by 2015 still represent only 7 percent of all county economies. In contrast, almost 16 percent of county economies had not recovered on any indicator by 2015, mostly in the South and Midwest. States such as Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Mississippi have more than a third of their county economies still reeling from the latest downturn across all economic indicators.
The report has this section under the cheery sounding subheading “Economic Recovery is Spreading Out”, but it’s really hard to see this in too positive a light. For those interested, here is the relevant map:
As you can see, the darkest blue indicates counties that have totally recovered on all four of their indicators. Most of the country’s counties, though, are still stuck on the lower end of the spectrum. As you can see, the colors for 0-2 recovered indicators far out number the fully and mostly recovered counties.
It does qualify as progress, I suppose, from last year when, as the Wall Street Journal noted, the organization’s study found only 65 of the nation’s counties had recovered on all four points. The Journal has done the hard work of crunching the numbers on NACO’s study. Here is what they have note:
Last year, 72 of the recovered counties were in Texas, the most of any state. Nebraska followed with 22. Minnesota, Kentucky, North Dakota, Montana and Kansas each had at least 10 fully recovered counties.
Meanwhile, in 27 states, not a single county had fully recovered.
Some of the nation’s largest counties finally recovered from the recession in 2015, including the counties containing
Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, […]