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US Economy: My county, 'tis of thee

Like politics, economics is all local.
Us housing market 3212013Enlarge
New homes under construction at a housing development in Gilbert, Ariz., are seen in this photo on March 6, 2013. In 2008, Phoenix was at the forefront of the United States housing crisis, but now the city is now undergoing a housing boom as sale prices have surged 22.9 percent, the highest price increase in the nation. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BOSTON — Sure, in 2013 the US economy continued to bounce back from the Great Recession.

Here are three key stats that prove the thesis:

US gross domestic product surged 4.1 percent in the third quarter.

The unemployment rate fell below 7 percent in December (it now stands at 6.7 percent).

Housing prices in the US rose 12.5 percent in the third quarter from the previous year.

But can you spot the problem in these three happy figures?

Answer: they're all national numbers that don't tell the whole story.

In fact, these reports can hide what's happening in the economies of one particular region, state, or even county.

That's the big takeaway from an interesting report released Monday by the National Association of Counties.

Economics — like politics — is definitely local.

About half of America's 3,069 economies have still failed to recover from pre-recession levels, according to the Country Tracker 2013 report.

In it, the association — which promotes economic development and policy at the nation's county level — examined the key drivers of the world's largest economy: GDP, total jobs created, the unemployment rate and housing prices.

At every turn it found overall improvement, but wide discrepancies at the local level.

Here's how the Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics blog put it:

"National statistics “mask the reality on the ground,” where some county economies were in recession long before December 2007 and others never experienced one at all, said Emilia Istrate, the association’s director of research and one of the authors of the report. “That’s where Americans feel the economy. They feel it locally.”

So, yes, the US economy as a whole is getting better. And that's a good thing.

But a lot of that strength — and continued fragility — depends on where you live.

Remember this, please, the next time you're hearing about the latest economic report.

From California to the New York island, not every recovery was made for you or me. At least not equally or uniformly.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/macro/us-economy-my-county-tis-thee

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