Though unemployment dropped in December, increasing foreclosure rates in several U.S. regions drove up the monthly AP Economic Stress Index for the month.
The index, which ranges from 1 to 100 based on a combination of unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates nationwide, reflects more economic stress the higher it is. The average county had a stress level of 10.4 in December, up from 10.3 in November. Though unemployment fell and bankruptcy rates remained fairly constant nationwide during the month, rising foreclosures in certain states contributed to an increase in overall stress level for the country, the news source said.
Foreclosures in states that have felt the burden of depressed housing markets in recent years, like California and Florida, actually fell during the month. They rose the most in certain regions in western states, including Seattle, Salt Lake City and Greeley, Colorado.
Georgia joined the list of most-stressed states during the month, according to the news source, possibly because its unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure rates have been rising in the past several months. It has the second-highest bankruptcy rate in the country, and the seventh-highest foreclosure rate. Its unemployment rate was 10.2 percent in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.