The Money Report April 2013

Where the Recession Hit Us Hardest: An Interactive Map

How different regions and industries have weathered the downturn—and the recovery

The recession in Los Angeles was different from the recession in Detroit, which was different from the recession in Oklahoma City. But not in the way you might think. As the “Average Earnings Per Job in 2011” map shows, income tends to be higher in the Northeast, in the mid-Atlantic region, and in states with major cities. Tracking change in earnings over the course of the recession, however, produces a very different map (“Growth in Average Earnings Per Job, 2007–2011”)—one in which rural regions in the middle of the country experienced a surge in income even as wealthier states watched wages stagnate.

Many of the industries that were hit hardest by the recession—finance, information, and construction, for example—are prevalent in higher-earning states, while many of those that grew in spite of the downturn are clustered in lower-earning states. The result is that the average paycheck in Nebraska, while lower than that in New York, is growing much more quickly.

Central to this transformation is America’s natural-resources boom. Over the past 10 years, new drilling technologies have cracked previously inaccessible reserves of shale oil and gas in North Dakota, West Virginia, and other states. So as the recession descended on the rest of the country, these states saw employment and wages mushroom, not just for rig workers but for waitresses, truck drivers, real-estate agents, and everyone else who keeps a thriving economy thriving.

Presented by

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Business

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In