Seven years after the recession began, only one in 50 U.S. counties has fully bounced back, according to a study the National Association of Counties released Monday.
The 2014 County Economic Tracker shows that 65 of the nation’s 3,069 counties have met or surpassed pre-recession levels in four measured categories: jobs, unemployment rate, economic output and home prices.
Those places range from Anderson County, S.C., to McKenzie County, N.D., to Kodiak Island, Alaska.
National employment surpassed 2007 levels during 2014 and the U.S. gross domestic product had fully recovered from the recession by 2011. But the national unemployment rate was 5.6% in December compared with 5% when the recession began seven years earlier. And housing values in much of the country have yet to fully return.
The recovered counties are largely located in energy-rich areas and have small populations. Of the 65 recovered counties, 24 are in Texas and 16 are in North Dakota. The others are generally in the middle of the country, including nine in Minnesota and eight in Kansas.
None of the recovered counties has more than 500,000 residents.
Only one large county, Kent County, Mich., has bested its prerecession unemployment rate. That county had a 3.5% unemployment rate in November, on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. That was down from 5.3% in November 2007. But housing prices in the area that includes Grand Rapids, Mich., have not fully recovered.
Strong job growth and a national economy forecast by the Federal Reserve to near 3% GDP growth in 2015 should allow more counties to fully recover this year. But shifts in population and industries could mean that many counties struggle for extended periods to match 2007 economic readings.