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First Coast in Decent Shape, Relatively Speaking

stress-postIt may seem like this recession has been dragging on forever, but a new index of national economic suffering suggests we might not have it that bad.

The First Coast, and North Florida in general, are actually in pretty decent economic shape when compared with many other areas of the state and the rest of the country.

The Associated Press has created a county-by-county economic stress index that measures how bad things are on a scale of 0 to 100. They've assigned every county in the nation a number, based  on a formula that takes into account unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy rates.

Here's a look at how some First Coast counties are holding up:

DUVAL COUNTY -- 12.56
9.1% unemployment, 2.11% foreclosure, 1.08% bankruptcy

CLAY COUNTY -- 12.09
9.0% unemployment, 2.3% foreclosure, 1.12% bankruptcy

ST. JOHNS COUNTY -- 11.47
8.3% unemployment, 2.48% foreclosure, 1.0% bankruptcy

NASSAU COUNTY -- 10.66
8.6% unemployment, 1.31% foreclosure, 0.96% bankruptcy

BAKER COUNTY -- 10.18
8.9% unemployment, 0.66% foreclosure, 0.75% bankruptcy

Several Florida counties had stress index ratings of over 18, some based upon high unemployment (Flager) and others on high foreclosure rates (South Florida).

LEE COUNTY -- 19.98
12.2% unemployment, 7.59% foreclosure, 1.38% bankruptcy

ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- 18.30
12.8% unemployment, 5.24% foreclosure, 1.13% bankruptcy

FLAGLER COUNTY -- 18.21
14.3% unemployment, 3.13% foreclosure, 1.48% bankruptcy

The study also compares current ratings with those of October 2007. The finding, not surprising, is that things are much worse now than they were then in almost every county in the nation.

stress-post2Looking around the full map, it's not hard to find some counties that have ratings well into the middle and even high 20's.

Heavily rural Perry County in Tennessee has a rating of over 27, due almost entirely to it's staggering 25.4% unemployment rate. Similar cases, though most are not quite as extreme, exist throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.

In Michigan, Mackinac County's unemployment rate clocks in at 28%. Similarly high unemployment rates existing in at least a dozen other Michigan counties.

The worst scores seem to be heavily clustered in the Western states, Michigan, and sporatically through parts of the "rust belt" and rural areas of the South.

To view the full map, click here.

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