By Mike Stetzer
Economic stress - defined by unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates - has fallen significantly in January relative to January of 2010, though it still remains high as the nation gradually recovers from the recession.
Stress declined in 34 states and in nearly two-thirds of counties nationwide, the AP Economic Stress Index for January revealed. Joblessness fell in nearly three-quarters of counties, and foreclosure and bankruptcy rates declined in almost half of counties.
However, on a month-over-month basis, January witnessed increases in stress over December, according to the news source. Stress overall and unemployment in particular increased in more than 90 percent of counties in January relative to December, while foreclosures and bankruptcies increased in one-third of them. Increased stress levels in January aren't necessarily a recession-specific phenomenon, analysts say - it's traditionally the month of layoffs for holiday seasonal workers and workers in the agriculture, construction and tourism industries.
The most stressed state in the country was Nevada, scoring the worst for joblessness, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nevada's unemployment rate peaked at 14.9 percent in April 2010 and remained unchanged for the following eight months.