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Yeah, the national unemployment rate is heading higher. We get it. But unless you’re Wal*Mart, the ‘national average’ rate means squat. We need to look at the trends in each and every state.

Most retailers that have pointed out areas of weakness by geography have chirped the same song. Florida, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and California. But what about Oregon, South Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin and Louisiana? These might not be the epicenters of our economy, but they are showing meaningful deterioration on the margin in employment trends – yes, even more so than California.

Map 1 shows unemployment rate by state. Not a lot of surprises. West Coast in tough shape, South/Southeast feeling pain, Northeast hanging tough, and Midwest/Northern plains a mixed bag.

Map 2 is more meaningful. It shows the yy change in employment rate by state. The punchline is that many states that have been most resilient to date are the ones showing the biggest erosion in employment trends.

What’s the next step in this analysis? We’re taking the lat and long of every retailer and plotting to see greatest exposure/risk. We’ll come back to you with results shortly. In the interim, if there are any specific retailers you want results for, contact my team or Jen Kane (Director of Client Services).

Zach Brown and Brian McGough