About six years ago, an economist with an unusually pithy sense of humor labeled the four states hit hardest by the recession -- California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida -- as the "sand states." And, if you think of it, the label makes sense, as California and Florida boast sandy beaches while Arizona and Nevada are sandy desert locales. The trouble is, the label, while eye-catching, was misconstrued. While Florida was a total mess due to the mortgage blowup and subsequent foreclosure crisis, in California the deep problems were more localized to the Central Valley and Inland Empire. In Nevada, the crush really happened in Las Vegas, while the heart of the crisis in Arizona seemed to be in Phoenix metro area. Living in Arizona and always on the lookout for what the national news has to say about us desert dwellers, I still can find almost a story a day about all the bad things that have happened to the Phoenix metro, which we locally call the Valley of the Sun....
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