North Dakota Leads on the Road to Economic Recovery

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SIX years after the recession began, the United States has yet to return to where it was by any of three measures of economic activity: jobs, highway miles driven or house prices. That makes this business cycle unique among recent cycles — within four years of the recessions that began in 1981, 1990 and 2001, each of those indicators was up substantially.

But within the current slow recovery over all, there is a wide gap in the performance of individual states, as can be seen in the accompanying charts.

The indicators cover different areas of activity. The job count is an obvious measure of economic activity, and highway miles driven reflect how many people are driving to work each day, as well as how much is being shipped to stores. Home prices are critical in the current cycle because that was the area most directly affected by the credit crisis.

At the top of all three measurements is North Dakota, a small state that has been transformed by the shale oil boom. Employment has soared by more than 25 percent, pushing up housing prices by almost a third. And the number of miles driven on the state’s highways is up by about a fifth.

At the bottom of the list, which is based on combining all three indicators for each state, is Florida. It is among the bottom 10 in each category, although it is not the worst in any of them. Nevada is at the bottom in terms of jobs and home prices, but perhaps oddly, the increase in driving has been greater there than in any state other than North Dakota. New York, on the other hand, has the largest decline in driving but is in the top 10 for job growth.

This week, the government released its state-by-state measurements of home prices in the fourth quarter of 2013, as well as its estimates of highway miles driven in December. The mile rankings are based on comparisons for the entire years of 2007 and 2013, offsetting temporary weather factors that can influence any one month.

Over all, 18 states now have more jobs than they did when the recession began. There are 15 states with higher home prices and 23 where more miles are being driven.

recovery

The energy industry has been an important factor in most of the states that have done the best in adding jobs, and it has also played an important role in supporting home prices.

There are signs of recovery in other areas. In 2013, the largest increases in home prices came in Nevada, California and Arizona — states where property values boomed and then collapsed. Florida and Nevada were also among the leaders in new jobs last year, although they are still well below prerecession levels in employment.

source-http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/01/business/north-dakota-leads-on-the-road-to-economic-recovery.html?_r=0

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