Big growth, big problems
In your snapshot, "Down and out in the West," you observed that Nevada leads the county in unemployment "for the 14th straight month, due to its almost complete reliance on the still-pretty-dilapidated housing, gaming and tourism industries" (HCN, 8/22/2011). Similarly, you wrote, "California is still reeling from the housing implosion," but Wyoming and North Dakota are not. North Dakota has the country's lowest unemployment rate at 3.2 percent. It should be noted that Nevada and California have been run by promoters of population growth, while Wyoming and North Dakota have largely been left alone by the big promoters of growth. Population growth never pays for itself. These economic disparities among the four states are easily understood.
Albert A. Bartlett