The Miserable State of MichiCaliFlArivada

Here's a gallows humor game. A state-by-state report of economic pain (unemployment, credit card debt, foreclosure rate, etc) comes out, and you're looking to make some lunch money. Turn to your colleague, and say: "Before even looking at what this report measures, I will guess at least three of the top five worst states in the category." Impossible right? Out of 50? Without even knowing the statistic? Wrong. Just say: California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona. It's that easy.

For example: Today's foreclosure rate survey is out, and - surprise!- the top four states are all in that Unfab Five.


In order, they are: Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California. Not surprising, since the worst metro areas for homes losing value are: Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami and Detroit (Unfab Five representing to the max!). Other unfortunate categories are similarly held down by these states. As of June, California and Florida 8 of the top 10 worst cities for credit card debt, Nevada had the worst drop in home prices, Arizona had the worst drop in unemployment and Michigan remains the overall jobless leader with a 14 percent unemployment rate. There it is. Michicaliflarivada. Not expialidocious, in the slightest.

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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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