Measuring the nation’s economic stress, county by county

Published on May 21, 2009

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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The Associated Press has generated a neat interactive map that gives a look at unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy rates for every county in the U.S. The AP has combined all the figures to come up with an Economic Stress Index for each county, as of March 2009. The map also benchmarks the numbers to October 2007.

Some observations:

  • It would be hard to find a county that’s faced more strain than Imperial County, CA. It has a 25.1% jobless rate and an overall index score of 28.13. Notice, however, that Imperial County has been struggling for many months — back in October 2007, its unemployment rate was 20.8%.

  • In the center of the country — Nebraska, South and North Dakota, most of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — the shade of orange is fairly light, meaning these regions are doing quite well by comparison to some areas.

  • The foreclosure rates in Southern California are particularly telling. San Bernardino County, for example, has a stress index of 19.19 thanks to a foreclosure rate of 6.49%.