By GENE EPSTEIN
"IF A RECESSION IS WHEN YOUR NEIGHBOR loses his job, and a depression is when you do, then our neighbors in Michigan have been suffering a recession for some time. But if, to put a new spin on the time-worn quip, an expansion is when your neighbor gets a better job, and a boom is when you do, then if you live in Texas, you're probably enjoying a boom.
That a boom and a bust could be happening at the same time, in the same country, only highlights an underappreciated fact: While the U.S. economy is a useful abstraction, it consists of many different economies, each with its own special story. State and regional data are not as timely as national data. But the recently issued Bureau of Labor Statistics release for September 2007 on regional, state, and certain local labor markets provides a reasonably timely update.