AP rolls out maps to show economic stress

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The Associated Press announced Monday that it is launching an index that will provide monthly, multi-format updates on the economic stress of the United States down to the county level.

The Associated Press Economic Stress Index weighs three economic variables – unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcy – to produce a score on a scale of 0-100 that measures how the recession is affecting a county compared to all others.

The scores are then plotted on the interactive Associated Press Economic Stress Maps, which demonstrate at a highly local level how economic conditions have deteriorated since October 2007. They also can be used as a tool to measure the progress of recovery in the coming months, providing a granular view of economic change in the United States.

“The AP Economic Stress Index is a valuable tool for analyzing what got us to this point of the recession,” said Kristin Gazlay, the AP’s managing editor for business news and global training, in a statement. “But, even more importantly, it gives us a way to look at how things change over time and judge whether the economy is actually getting better, including pinpointing precisely where the recovery has its roots.”

The color-coded maps contain video essays from Americans all over the country. Users can also view previous months and see how the nation’s economic stress level has changed over time.

The maps will be updated monthly to reveal each county’s AP Economic Stress score, as well as its unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. These updates will be accompanied by a series of text stories, photos and video that illuminate and provide context to the data.

The index, which includes exclusive data, was developed with help from University of Pennsylvania Professor Tony Smith, an expert in spatial statistical analysis.

Read more here.