The County Voice

The Good News Just Keeps On Coming

The Associated Press released its nationwide “Economic Stress Index” for March today and the numbers aren’t pretty – at least for California. While economic stress declined in the vast majority of the country’s 3,100-plus counties, you can’t say the same for California. In fact, counties from the “Golden State” dominated the Top 20 list of most economically distressed counties. Twelve California counties are in the Top 20, and seven are in the Top 10. Ouch. 

The Economic Stress Index measures financial strain across the U.S. using a formula comprised of major economic indicators. It might sound complex but it really isn’t.  According to the Web site, as things get worse, a county’s stress index score goes up. As things get better, the score goes down. There’s a visual map of the United States with each county shaded a different color corresponding to whether the index is going up or down. Unfortunately, many California counties are dark, which is a sign that the index is going up. Only parts of Michigan and Nevada rival California in color. 

If you’ve never looked at this index, it’s worth reviewing. You can find insightful — and yes, often depressing — data for every county in the United States.  While on the Web site, when you scroll over each county, you receive data on unemployment rates, foreclosures and bankruptcies. You can go back and review months of data. 

So, California is still facing a budget deficit of nearly $20 billion, our 58 counties from Humboldt to Imperial are facing their own significant budget deficits, and there’s no end in sight to the ongoing demand for county services – at least according to the Associated Press Economic Stress Index. Yes, the good news just keeps on coming. 

In case you were wondering what counties were in the index’s Top 10, here they are: 1) Imperial County, 2) Merced County, 3) Lyon County, Nev., 4) San Benito County, 5) Sutter County, 6) Yuba County, 7) Stanislaus County, 8) Iosco County, Mich., 9) San Joaquin County, and 10) Nye County, Nev.

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