The Great Recession hasn't released its hold on hundreds of counties across the U.S., a new report from the National Association of Counties finds.

According to the report, through the end of 2013 approximately half of the nation's 3,069 county economies are still below pre-recession levels in gross domestic product, number of jobs, unemployment rates, and home prices.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Commerce Department data has shown the U.S. as a whole reached its pre-recession level of gross domestic product three years ago. But national statistics "mask the reality on the ground," Emilia Istrate, the director of research for the National Association of Counties and one of the authors of the report, tells the paper.

Istrate says some county economies were suffering a recession long before December 2007, while others never experienced one at all. "That's where Americans feel the economy. They feel it locally," she tells WSJ.

The report contained some good news: Large counties, including Los Angeles and New York City's counties, were hit hardest during the recession in all four categories but also recovered the fastest and strongest. 

What does this mean for small business? Istrate says it all depends on location: "This shows us that although the U.S. economy as a whole is on the right track, we have a fragile recovery, and at the same time it's an uneven recovery," Istrate tells WSJ.

Published on: Jan 14, 2014