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Florida Remains Stressed Despite Nationwide Progress - Part One

While some progress is being made in restoring our economy, Florida continues to face challenges. An Associated Press (AP) analysis of economic stress nationwide for the month of October shows that economic stress is down. However, some areas, including Florida, are still experiencing significant levels of stress, as demonstrated in its elevated bankruptcy and foreclosure rates.

Still, the AP analysis reveals that the nation's economic stress level in October is the lowest it has been in 18 months. The AP surveyed all U.S. states and approximately 3,000 counties nationwide. Twenty-eight of the states and 56 percent of the counties experienced a decrease in economic stress.

How exactly is economic stress determined? The data was analyzed using the AP's Economic Stress Index, which assigns areas a stress score from 1 to 100 based on their bankruptcy, foreclosure and unemployment rates. A higher score indicates an increased level of economic stress. Generally speaking, an area with a score higher than 11 is considered stressed.

Of the states with the most stress, all showed signs of improvement except for Florida. In fact, Florida, with a stress score of 16.56, knocked California out of its spot as the second most-stressed state. Nevada reigns as the most-stressed state with a score of 21.68. The remaining top-five stressed states were California, Michigan and Arizona, with scores of 16.01, 15.52 and 14.6, respectively. Although they did not make the list, Hawaii and Utah have experienced significant economic stress in recent months as well.

As for the counties, their average stress score fell from 10 in September to 9.9 in October. Also, while 35 percent of counties were considered stressed in September, a little over one-third were stressed in October, representing a slight decrease.

In our next blog post, we will look at some of the factors affecting economic stress, especially those impacting Florida.

Source: Associated Press "AP analysis: Economic stress falls to 18-month low," 13 December 2010

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