First Coast in Decent Shape, Relatively Speaking
It 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.
Looking 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.