A Bumpy Recession Recovery

The Census Bureau has issued a new assessment of where we are in recovering from The Great Recession. According to The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the organization that officially designates when recessions begin and end, the latest downturn ended in June 2009. Thus we are now 6 ½ years into the recovery, a point at which earlier, milder recessions had long receded into history.

If we scan across the country on a county-by-county basis, we find that only 1,038 of 3,142 counties have a higher median income that they did six years ago, adjusted for inflation. Look at this map, which shades each county by its growth or decline since 2009.

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Those living in vast portions of our country don’t seem to be doing too badly, although undoubtedly not up to their expectations. This partially explains the unease we hear everywhere and the grumblings on the political front. A vast swath running down from the Dakotas to Texas has been prospering because of the oil boom, but tumbling prices are beginning to hit there too. Georgia and Florida have been hard hit, as have a large scattering of counties in the deep south generally. The west coast is also in decline, strangely including much of Oregon.

Generally speaking, no one can say that we are out of the woods yet. Those in Congress and the Administration should hesitate to take credit for their actions to advance our economy. We may not be in a recession but we are not prospering by any measure.

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