The 2008 Recession Continues In Half Of U.S. Counties

From the Wall Street Journal blog:

About half of the nation’s 3,069 county economies are still short of their prerecession economic output, reflecting the uneven economic recovery, according to a new report from the National Association of Counties.

The overall U.S. economy had reached its prerecession level of gross domestic product three years ago, Commerce Department figures show.


The report, released Monday, examined four economic indicators: GDP, total number of jobs, unemployment rates and home prices. It found wide variations.

Almost 400 counties saw no decline in GDP from their prerecession levels. Large counties were hit hard by the recession, but have recovered relatively strongly.

The roughly 800 counties boasting prerecession employment levels by 2013 are mostly in the Midwest and South. And just 54 had achieved their prerecession level of unemployment last year, the report said.

Of course, in terms of US population, half the counties probably don’t represent half the people of the United States. But it is still a substantial portion. This is one more fact that helps explain why economic good news reported in the media rings so hollow to many people.

The way that the media’s or the government’s claims that the economy is growing seem so unbelievable to so many people is reminiscent of the situation back in 2007. Then, many felt that the economy was in serious trouble but news outlets like CNBC kept claiming that we were continuing to grow. Once again, looking at separate counties helps explain the discrepancy:

National statistics “mask the reality on the ground,” where some county economies were in recession long before December 2007 and others never experienced one at all, said Emilia Istrate, the association’s director of research and one of the authors of the report. “That’s where Americans feel the economy. They feel it locally.”

It would be interesting if someone would cross-check these counties that are still in recession with the price of health insurance plans for their residents. Just like Obamacare inadvertently hits Hispanics harder than others, so certain counties might find themselves suddenly in much more economic pain because no one thinks about the particular situations of particular people in particular places.

This would just be one more lesson why government planners are not competent to control large sections of the economy and manage them so that everyone is better off.