Twenty states saw their median family incomes plummet at least a dizzying 5 percent over those two years. The largest losses were clustered in the twin poles of Sun Belt and Rust Belt states: on the one hand, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Alabama, North Carolina, California, and South Carolina; on the other, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. (Oregon was the only state among the dozen largest losers that is not in either the Sun Belt or the Rust Belt.) A more diverse list of 17 other states lost between 3 and 5 percent of median family income.
On poverty, the damage was equally dispersed, although the patterns of distress were less uniform. From 2008 to 2010, the share of people living in poverty increased in every state except Montana (whose small improvement in its poverty rate was within the survey's margin of error). In a dozen states, the proportion of residents living in poverty increased by at least 20 percent over just those two years; in another 25 states, the poverty rate increased by at least 10 percent. After this rapid deterioration, at least one in 10 residents are now living in poverty in every state except Alaska, Maryland (both registered a hardly comforting 9.9 percent), and New Hampshire (at 8.3 percent).
The picture is more mixed on access to health insurance. From 2008 to 2010, the share of residents without insurance rose in 35 states, with Hawaii, Rhode Island, Kansas, Virginia, and Kentucky experiencing the largest increases. In another 15 states, the percentage of uninsured people declined. But in each direction, most of the changes were quite small and in many cases within the survey's margin of error (which varies by state). In no state did the pool of people without insurance increase or decrease by more than 1.8 percentage points. On health care, then, the overall picture is one of stagnation over the past two years.
At least 10 percent of residents are uninsured in all but nine states. Massachusetts--with just 4.4 percent, the lowest rate in the union--is the bookend to the unequaled 23.7 percent who are uninsured in Texas.
The trends in employment complete the picture of a continent-sized storm. From December 2008 through August 2011, the latest month for which BLS figures are available, the number of people with jobs declined in every state except three big energy producers: Texas (where employment increased a slim 0.4 percent), Alaska (up 1.9 percent), and North Dakota (up 7.2 percent). Nevada was the biggest loser: It has shed a stunning 8 percent of its jobs since 2008. Georgia and Arizona also suffered losses greater than 5 percent, followed by Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas, Delaware, California, and Indiana.
Measured in absolute rather than percentage terms, 10 states have lost at least 100,000 jobs since December 2008. Once again, the big losers cluster around the Sun Belt and the Rust Belt. In the former, they include California (by far the most affected with nearly 600,000 jobs gone), Florida (276,000 lost), Georgia (211,000), North Carolina, and Arizona. The big Rust Belt losers were Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. (Among the biggest losers, New Jersey is the only state to break that regional pattern.)