Last year, national employment surpassed prerecession levels for the first time, and GDP growth reached an 11-year high. But that doesn’t mean the economy is totally back on track — home prices haven’t fully recovered, and the unemployment rate is still above prerecession levels.
So how does that all play out on the ground? According to the National Association of Counties, “county economies are where Americans feel the national economy.” And, they have found, at the county level only 2.1% of counties have fully recovered from the recession.
That’s according to a new NACo study, which compares each county based on four indicators: job growth, unemployment rates, GDP output, and median home prices.
(Bear in mind, it’s tough to compare data at the county level because of the disparities in counties’ size and makeup, so these estimates are very approximate.)
Many counties (72%) showed improvement in at least one of those categories. But only 65 of 3,069 showed recovery in all four.
The counties that did show strong improvement tended to be smaller, with strong energy or agricultural sectors.
Here’s what else the study found:
- Home prices recovered in just under 50% of counties in 2014.
- 2014 saw more net job creation than 2013. (Job growth was faster in 2014 than in 2013 for 63% of counties.)
- Job growth was most impressive in counties in the southwest of the country.
- Unemployment rates were by far the area in which counties fared the worst: 95% of counties remained above prerecession unemployment levels.
NACo created an interactive county map, with information on a variety of indicators for each county. (In the “Map an Indicator” drop-down menu, navigate to “Economy” and then “County Economic Tracker.”)
Read NACo’s full report here.
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