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The 10 States With the Worst Economies In America

The global economic crash hurt everyone, but not equally; here are the states that are feeling the greatest economic pain.

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Poverty rate (2008): 13.2 percent

Share of the population without health insurance: 21 percent

Foreclosure rate: 13.7 percent

7. South Carolina

Despite being far from the canyons of Wall Street, the Carolinas were among the hardest hit states in the downturn. South Carolina is tied for third in unemployment, has low average incomes and modest net worths, and a poverty rate in the top 10. Over half of the state's unemployed have been out of work for more than six months – one of the highest rates in the country.

Unemployment rate: 10.9 percent

Share of unemployed out of work for more than 27 weeks: 51.9 percent

Per capita income: $31,378

Median household net worth, as a percentage of national average: 78 percent

Poverty rate (2008): 15.7 percent

Share of the population without health insurance: 16 percent

Foreclosure rate: 3.6 percent

8. Michigan

Long one of the most productive states in the union, Michiganians enjoy household net worths somewhat higher than the national average, and with the automotive industry appearing to be on the rebound and lots of new business investments, the Great Lakes State should see better days ahead. With a higher-than-average concentration of unionized workers, it has a relatively low rate of uninsured citizens. But Michigan has a lot of poverty, it's currently tied with South Carolina for the nation's third highest unemployment rate and just under half of its jobless have been out of work for a half-year or more.

Unemployment rate: 10.9 percent

Share of unemployed out of work for more than 27 weeks: 49.8 percent

Per capita income: $34,893

Median household net worth, as a percentage of national average: 107 percent

Poverty rate (2008): 14.4 percent

Share of the population without health insurance: 13 percent

Foreclosure rate: 4.0 percent

9. Georgia

Georgia's economy would be the world's 28th largest if it were a country. It is headquarters to 1,700 multinationals, including Fortune 500 companies like UPS, Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines. It also has lots of poverty, low incomes and a lot of uninsured workers. More than half of Georgia's jobless find themselves among the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Unemployment rate: 10.1 percent

Share of unemployed out of work for more than 27 weeks: 51.2 percent

Per capita income: $37,366

Median household net worth, as a percentage of national average: 98 percent

Poverty rate (2008): 14.7 percent

Share of the population without health insurance: 19 percent

Foreclosure rate: 3.4 percent

10. Kentucky

About a quarter of all electricity generated in the U.S. comes from Kentucky's coal mines and uranium enrichment plant, and its cheap-labor, largely de-unionized workforce has attracted enough automotive manufacturing to make it fourth in the country in producing cars and trucks. But Kentuckians' net worths are about a third lower than those in the rest of the country, its per capita incomes are among the 10 lowest in the U.S. and it is tied (with three other states) for the second highest poverty rate.

Unemployment rate: 9.5 percent

Share of unemployed out of work for more than 27 weeks: 37.2 percent

Per capita income: $33,326

Median household net worth, as a percentage of national average: 65 percent

Poverty rate (2008): 17.3 percent

Share of the population without health insurance: 16 percent

Foreclosure rate: 3.2 percent

Honorable Mentions

In this economic climate, deciding which 10 states to highlight wasn't easy. Three states almost made the cut. Tennessee, with median net worths over a fifth below the national average and a poverty rate over 15 percent, would have made it if we'd done the 11 worst state economies. But it has a relatively low foreclosure rate – about half the national average – unemployment under 10 percent, and with a low cost of living, it's easier to scrape by on low incomes than it would be in many states.

 
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