What's Wrong with California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida?

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Unemployment numbers are out for 48 states, and for some states they are record-setting in all the wrong ways. Congratulations are in order for Nebraska and Vermont, the only two states to not report increases. But why is it that whenever these awful reports come out, the same four or five state always grab the headlines?


The Wall Street Journal reports that eight states, including California and Nevada, have set records for unemployment. Meanwhile, Arizona and Florida had the worst month in overall layoffs. Remember those four states, because we keep seeing their name in every depressing report about foreclosures, credit and jobs. They each have their own distinct awful qualities.

Florida and the fiscal black hole formerly known as California were the epicenters of the foreclosure earthquake in 2008 (see graph below), and today they're home to eight of the top ten worst cities for credit card debt.
foreclosures.png You can also see the blue mark of death beginning to spread to parts of Nevada and Arizona in the picture. And the problems there continue. In 2008 the worst percentage plunge in jobs was in Arizona, at 5.2 percent. And the most dramatic collapse in home prices last year? It was Nevada. The next three, if you even had to ask, were California, Florida and Arizona.

statehomeprices.png

You might be asking, What about Michigan? Michigan is also a disaster, leading the nation in unemployment at 14 percent, which will only get worse as GM barrels through a difficult bankruptcy and the state struggles to make the switch to green tech and manufacturing, which is its stated goal.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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