Happiness Index: Nevada Left in the Dust

Where the Recession is Still Felt

The recession may be over but don’t tell that to the residents of Nevada and Michigan. Foreclosures are rampant in these two states, unemployment remains frozen in double digits and residents here are generally saddled with debt well above the national average, making these two of the least fiscally healthy states in the country, according to MainStreet’s bi-annual analysis of state-by-state economic data. Nevada, more than most states, felt the full force of the housing industry’s collapse leading up to the recession, while Michigan’s economy suffered a major blow from the struggles of the auto industry. While both have shown modest improvements throughout the economic recovery, Michigan’s 10.3% unemployment and the fact that one in every 103 Nevada homes is in foreclosure show just how far these states have to go toward a full recovery. The recession’s aftermath can be felt in the U.S. as a whole, though to a lesser degree. Unemployment sits at 9.2%, one in every 605 homes was in foreclosure as of May and the average person had $24,810 in non-mortgage debt, or roughly 60% of that individual’s income. Those numbers don’t exactly inspire confidence, but for some states, particularly in the Great Plains and the Northeast, the recession is truly becoming a thing of the past. States like North Dakota and Nebraska have unemployment rates that are less than half the national average, while Vermont has a foreclosure rate that is the envy of the rest of the country, in part because these states were insulated from the worst of the housing crisis and the ensuing economic downturn. Meanwhile, residents in New York and Connecticut have extremely low debt to income ratios, due mostly to the fact that their incomes are well above average. In short, consumers in these states have an easier time finding work, accrue less debt and are less likely to lose their homes than the country as a whole, all of which earn these states a high ranking on our Happiness Index.