February 3, 2015
This week we review of our proprietary Geo Score and highlight which States are improving and which are not.
January DIVER Geo Scores
This morning, we released the most recent DIVER Geo Scores for States, counties and cities. The DIVER Geo Score represents a relative score of the economic health of a U.S. State, county or city. Based on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the best, this data is updated monthly and is calculated from multiple economic and demographic factors related to three primary data categories—employment, income and housing.
The DIVER Geo Scores are available here.
The list of strongest States by Geo Score is unchanged from last month with a few changes in the relative rankings. For now, North Dakota still has the highest Geo Score of all States. Among the weakest, the economies of Florida, Kentucky, and Indiana have improved to move them off the list. The economies of West Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas have weakened enough that they have joined the list.
The chart below plots the current value of each State’s Geo Score against its year over year change in Geo Score. Viewing the data this way highlights the most significant States.
Florida, Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, and Illinois are States whose economies have been relatively weak, but are showing strong improvement. New Jersey, Maryland, New York, and Alaska have been strong, but are getting relatively weaker.
New Jersey’s weakness is particularly notable. The State continues to struggle with increasing housing foreclosure rates and weak employment markets.
While Midland, Texas still tops the cities list, it is only a matter of time before the weakness in oil prices begins to impact Midland’s economy. We do not expect its Unemployment Rate to stay at 2.2% (November ’14) for very long.
The chart illustrates the benefit that the oil boom has brought to the economy of the State of Texas and its oil producing and refining regions. In 2000, the national, State and city were nearly equal. Now the unemployment rate in Midland is less than half the national level.
Have a great week,
Michael Craft, CFA
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