Great Recession May be Over, but Rocky Recovery Ahead, Experts Say

Although the Great Recession may technically be over, the economy will remain rocky and the nation will continue to struggle well into 2010, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

The AP's monthly analysis of economic stress in more than 3,100 U.S. counties found the economy little changed in October compared with September. Some states saw slight improvement or stabilization, thanks to steadying foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. But the gains may be brief. Unemployment remains high, and the housing market is still weak. The "AP Economic Stress Index" calculates a score from 1 to 100 based on a county's unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. Under a rough rule of thumb, a county is considered stressed when its score exceeds 11. About 37% of the nation's 3,141 counties were deemed stressed, roughly the same proportion as the previous month.

Nationwide, the average county's Stress score remained unchanged at 10.1 in October, matching September's figure. It was 10.3 in August. A year earlier, in October 2008, the average score was a much lower 6.9.

My home state of Nevada had the highest October stress score of any U.S. state, at 21.09. That dismal figure declined slightly from the October figure of 21.95. Three Nevada counties — Lyon, Clark and Nye — again led the nation in foreclosures in October, with rates ranging from 7.1% to 8.5%, the AP reported. Nevada suffered the biggest year-to-year gain in foreclosures and continued to lead the nation with a 7.2% foreclosure rate. Job loss is a growing reason for mortgage foreclosure, according to AP and because there's typically a 60-to-90-day lag between a job loss and a foreclosure, the effect of earlier job losses on foreclosures probably won't be fully felt until next year.

Not surprisingly, Michigan, which has been battered by auto industry troubles, was second-highest, with a score of 17.36, followed by California (16.48), Florida (15.4) and Arizona (14.37).

Least stressed was North Dakota, with a score of 3.89.

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