The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently published a new study: County Tracker 2013: On the Path to Recovery, which assessed the “performance of the nation’s county economies by studying annual changes in four indicators – economic output (GDP), employment, the unemployment rate and home prices.” Part of the results of this study showed that as U.S. economic growth continued last year for the counties, there is an uneven and fragile recovery; many counties are “are continuing to struggle with their budgets, meet financial obligations and provide essential public services.”
From NACo’s website:
The report also contains case studies to illustrate how specific county economies fared during the recession and recovery. The counties profiled include, Tarrant County, Texas (population 1.9 million), Los Angeles County, Calif. (10 million), Linn County, Iowa (215,000) and Mountrail County, N.D. (9,000).
The economic indicators analyzed by NACo suggest that 2013 was a year of growth, but the recovery remained fragile. By 2013, the economic output (GDP) in about half of all county economies recovered or had no declines over the last decade. Home prices were in the same situation. But this is only part of the story. Jobs recovered in one quarter of county economies and in only 54 county economies unemployment is back to pre-recession levels. The low unemployment recovery rates show the fragility of the recovery.
The recovery has been also uneven. All counties, large, mid-sized or small, have been affected by the recession but the patterns of recovery vary significantly.