The County Voice

NACo: As County Economies Go, So Goes the Nation

How does your county compare to counties in the rest of California, or the nation, in terms of the economic recovery?”

That question is answered in an interesting and comprehensive analysis released today by the National Association of Counties (NACo) that examines the performance of all 3,069 county economies. The report is titled “County Tracker 2013: On the Path to Recovery.” NACo’s conclusion: As our county economies go, so goes the nation’s economy.

The study assesses the recovery patterns across the nation’s county economies in 2013 by analyzing annual changes in four indicators – economic output (GDP), employment, the unemployment rate and home prices. The report also contains case studies to illustrate how specific county economies fared during the recession, recovery and in 2013. Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, is one of four counties profiled, but you can access detailed data on all 58 California counties.

You can download the full report or go to NACo’s Website and access an interactive map to examine economic performance data for each of the 3,069 county economies and make comparisons across county population groups.

According to the NACo report, “…no similar study follows counties’ performance, the foundation of the U.S. economy. County economies are the building blocks of regional economies, states and the nation. County economies ensure the functioning of these fundamental units of the U.S economy by building and maintaining basic infrastructure assets, keeping communities healthy and safe and providing the social safety net for those in need.”

What NACo found:

  • Growth continued in 2013, but the recovery is still fragile in some parts of the country.
  • Large county economies were at the core of the recession and recovery.
  • Employment in mediums-sized county economies were more stable during the recession, but had a mixed record in 2013.
  • By 2013, the recovery in small county economies covered the entire scale of potential outcomes.

NACo’s assessment of Los Angeles County’s economy is of particular interest, especially since it is a major contributor to the recovery of both California and the nation. Between 2007 and 2009, the county economy lost more than $28 billion in economic output. Since it has gotten back on track, the LA County economy has created more than 180,000 jobs and contributed almost a quarter of California’s economic and employment growth, according to the report. Here’s a look at the detailed breakdown of Los Angeles County.

If you have a few minutes, this analysis is worth checking out. You aren’t going to find it anywhere else.

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