A tale of two recoveries: the states have not experienced the same slow but steady growth the national economy continues to enjoy.

Author:Quinn, Kathleen
Position:STATE BUDGETS
 
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As the nation's economy begins its ninth year of expansion , many states are not keeping pace, judging by budget, revenue and state government job numbers. For some states, slow growth has been tied to specific factors.

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"Right in the middle of the national economic downturn, when Oklahoma was trying to recover, the oil and gas industry went bust," says Oklahoma Senator Kim David (R). "Being one of our largest industries, it was an added fiscal challenge for the state."

For others, the plodding recovery has meant adopting a long view.

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"The main drivers of our economic growth are long-term efforts for economic diversification away from highly cyclical industries," says Representative Dan Pabon (D) of Colorado, where progress has been nurtured by "in-migration attracted by our quality of life and relative affordability, a highly skilled workforce and a collaborative and functional state and local government."

A look at state and national indicators from the start of the expansion in June 2009 following the Great Recession to this spring places the states' economic recovery in context and offers some insight into what might lie ahead on the fiscal horizon.

The current, near-decade-long recovery, often referred to as the "slowcovery," is actually not the longest in history, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. That distinction goes to the expansion in the 1990s, a 10-year stretch that ended with the collapse of the dot-com bubble in March 2001. When gross domestic product growth is considered, however, today's slowcovery is the weakest since before WWII. Real GDP has grown on average 2.1 percent per quarter since 2009, compared with an average of 4.3 percent over the last 10 expansions.

National economic indicators continue to show improvement, but to get an idea of what this recovery looks like at the state level, one must look at state economic indicators, revenue growth and budget conditions.

State Economic Indicators

COINCIDENT INDEX. By measuring nonfarm payroll employment, industrial and manufacturing production, real wages, and the unemployment rate, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia produces a monthly "coincident index" for each state. It calculates the three-month change in these state-level economic indicators (sometimes called coincident indicators). The June 2009 and Apri12017 coincident indexes paint very different images for most U.S...

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