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Cities in Every State That Haven’t Bounced Back From the 2008 Recession

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The 2008 recession — aka the Great Recession — was America’s worst financial decline since the Great Depression. Millions of jobs were lost, countless homes were foreclosed on and many people depleted their life savings in an attempt to stay financially afloat.

Even though it’s been over a decade since the Great Recession hit and ended, some cities in the U.S. are still reeling from its effects. For example, in Illinois, one city suffered an almost 60% decline in home values, which it never recovered from. And one city in California saw an unemployment rate that escalated from 9.7% to 19.6% within a decade.

To discover which cities are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, GOBankingRates analyzed median home values, unemployment rates, labor force participation rates and median household incomes from 2007, 2009, 2017 and 2019 in cities across the country. To offer some perspective, here are the U.S. averages for the most relevant statistics in the study:

  • Change in median home value from 2007-2019: 17.12%
  • Change in median home value from 2009-2019: 37.35%
  • Change in unemployment rate from 2009-2017: -0.6 percentage points
  • Change in labor force participation rate from 2009-2017: -1.6 percentage points
  • Change in median household income from 2007-2017: 15.29%
  • Change in median household income from 2009-2017: 12.11%

By looking over the data, you might be able to spot certain trends and learn the warning signs of another recession.

Last updated: Dec. 31, 2019

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Alabama

Dothan has fared the worst among cities in this Southern state. Over a decade, unemployment rose by 2.6 percentage points — from 5.5% in 2007 to 8.1% in 2017. However, Montgomery had the most drastic change in median home value from 2007 to 2019. In approximately 12 years, home values in the city dropped by 18.29%, plummeting from a median home value of $102,500 to $83,750.

Alaska

Fairbanks has seen the biggest negative changes in terms of its unemployment rate and labor force participation rate. The unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, increasing from 7.8% to 9.4%. The labor force participation rate dropped by 3.9 percentage points — going from 76.8% to 72.9% between 2007 and 2017.

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Arizona

Overall, Catalina Foothills has struggled to bounce back from the 2008 recession. The median home value in the city plunged by 13.08% from 2007 to 2019, going from $635,758 to $552,590. Flagstaff, on the other hand, has fallen short mostly with its unemployment rate and labor force participation rate. Within 10 years, the unemployment rate rose by 3.7 percentage points, from 4% to 7.7%. During the same period, labor force participation dropped by 4.9 percentage points.

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Arkansas

West Memphis has experienced the greatest decrease in home values among Arkansas cities. The median home value dropped from $74,408 to $68,490 between 2007 and 2019, equaling a 7.95% change. However, unemployment rates rose by 1.1 percentage points in Russellville, from 8.2% in 2007 to 9.3% in 2017. The city also experienced the largest decrease in median household income between 2007 and 2017, dropping from $36,390 to $35,295 — a 3% change.

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California

Reedley has fared the worst overall, but its unemployment rate, in particular, stands out. The rate jumped by 8.5 percentage points over a decade — from 8% in 2007 to 16.5% in 2017. And out of the top five California cities that have recovered the least from the Great Recession, Indio saw the largest decrease in labor force participation. The participation rate dropped by 5.5 percentage points over 10 years.

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Colorado

Grand Junction qualifies as Colorado’s most economically troubled city since the 2008 recession. For example, its unemployment rate jumped by 2 percentage points from 2007 to 2017, going from 6.5% to 8.5%. However, Highlands Ranch and Brighton stand out for their lack of labor force participation. Over the decade, labor force participation dropped by 5.2 percentage points and 5.7 percentage points in those cities, respectively.

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Connecticut

Home values took a nosedive in many cities across Connecticut between 2007 and 2019. In Norwich, the median home value plunged from $214,575 to $157,490 — a decrease of 26.6%. And in Waterbury, the median home value dropped from $167,033 to $128,380, which is a decrease of 23.14%. Plus, New London had a 2.8 percentage point change in its unemployment rate between 2007 and 2017, from 9.4% to 12.2%.

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Delaware

Home values in Wilmington fell by 15.98% between 2007 and 2019 — from $152,800 to $128,380 — whereas home values in Newark dropped from $244,933 to $237,450 during those 12 years. The labor force participation rate also decreased in both cities. In Wilmington, the rate dropped by 2.5% from 2007 to 2017. In Newark, it dropped by 1.9% during that same period.

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Florida

Titusville has struggled the most with unemployment. From 2007 to 2017, the unemployment rate increased by 5.8 percentage points, from 3.7% to 9.5%. Fruit Cove — the place that was the most affected by the recession — saw a 3.6 percentage point increase in unemployment, from 2.9% to 6.5%.

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Georgia

The top three cities in Georgia that have struggled the most to bounce back from the 2008 recession are Albany, Valdosta and Columbus. In all three cities, home values took a hit between 2007 and 2019, with Columbus homeowners suffering the most. The median home value in that city dropped from $105,383 to $93,350 — an 11.42% change.

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Hawaii

The unemployment rates for many cities in Hawaii may have risen between 2007 and 2009, but they typically decreased by 2017. Kahului and Kailua were the exceptions. Kahului experienced the largest unemployment rate increase — a change of 2.4 percentage points, rising from 2.8% to 5.2%. And Kailua experienced a 0.7 percentage point increase in its unemployment rate, going from 4.2% to 4.9%.

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Idaho

Rexburg saw the largest unemployment rate increase from 2007 to 2017 — a change of 1.4 percentage points, going from 9.1% to 10.5%. Labor force participation rates experienced the most dramatic decline in Meridian, with a decrease of 6.3 percentage points, dropping from 72.1% to 65.8%. The second-most dramatic decline in labor force participation happened in Post Falls, where the rate dropped by 4.9 percentage points, from 71.2% to 66.3%.

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Illinois

Overall, Harvey was hit the hardest by the recession compared to other cities in Illinois. From 2007 to 2019, the median home value nosedived from $104,592 to $42,550, which is a decrease of 59.32%. Plus, the median household income plummeted from $39,378 to $24,343 in just 10 years — a 38.18% decrease. However, Lansing suffered the most dramatic increase in unemployment rates, with a rise of 6.7 percentage points, from 5.8% to 12.5%.

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Indiana

Lawrence, the city that has struggled the most, also suffered the largest jump in unemployment. From 2007 to 2017, the unemployment rate in Lawrence increased by 3.1 percentage points, from 4.7% to 7.8%. Meanwhile, the city of Elkhart saw the largest decline in labor force participation during the same period, with an 8.1 percentage point decrease, from 71.3% to 63.2%.

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Iowa

Urbandale saw the largest jump in unemployment between 2007 to 2017. There was a 0.7 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, going from 2.9% to 3.6%. The cities of Ames, Clinton and Davenport, however, saw the largest decline in labor participation rates, with a decrease of 5.6 percentage points, 4.2 percentage points and 3.8 percentage points, respectively.

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Kansas

Overall, Hutchinson has experienced the hardest time recovering from the Great Recession. One example of that is the city’s unemployment rate, which increased by 0.7 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, rising from 4.6% to 5.3%. However, other cities have suffered as well. Topeka saw the largest decline in labor force participation over the decade, with the rate dropping by 3.3 percentage points. During the same period, labor force participation in Salina dropped by 3.2 percentage points.

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Kentucky

Overall, Covington is the Kentucky city that has recovered the slowest from the recession — it had an unemployment rate that consistently increased between 2007 and 2017. The rate rose by 1.6 percentage points, from 7.6% to 9.2%. Additionally, the most dramatic change in labor force participation occurred in Nicholasville, which suffered a 5.8 percentage point decrease, from 71.4% to 65.6%.

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Louisiana

Slidell experienced the largest uptick in unemployment rate — 3.4 percentage points — from 2007 to 2017. The unemployment rate in Houma also rose by 2.8 percentage points during the same period. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate in Bossier City declined by 4.8 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, dropping from 69.8% to 65%.

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Maine

Among the cities in Maine, Bangor and South Portland experienced the largest increases in unemployment from 2007 to 2017. Bangor’s unemployment rate rose by 4 percentage points, from 3.4% to 7.4%. South Portland’s rate grew more slowly, gaining 1.4 percentage points over the decade, from 4.7% to 6.1%.

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Maryland

Montgomery Village saw a 27.33% decrease in home values from 2007 to 2009, with the median home value dropping from $333,117 to $242,083. In 2019, home values increased, but only to $289,910 — $43,207 below the median home value from 12 years earlier. The median household income in Montgomery Village also dropped between 2007 and 2017, going from $82,129 to $77,034.

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Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, Randolph has struggled the most to bounce back from the 2008 recession. Unemployment went up by 5.1 percentage points, from 5.5% in 2007 to 10.6% in 2017. Plus, the city’s median household income has never quite recovered. In 2007, it was $70,506, and 10 years later it was just $69,969.

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Michigan

Flint has had to deal with not only the effects of the Great Recession, but also its own water crisis. In 2015, it was discovered that lead was present in the city’s drinking water, which had previously been declared safe for consumption. By 2017, the effects of the recession and the water crisis had driven the median home value to 63% below where it was a decade earlier. Lincoln Park, Eastpointe and Lansing also experienced declines of 17.84%, 18.72% and 17.3% in median home values during the same period.

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Minnesota

Owatonna, located in southern Minnesota, is approximately 65 miles south of Minneapolis. Its labor force participation rate decreased by 4.8 percentage points from 2007 to 2017. But Owatonna wasn’t the only Minnesota city that experienced labor force woes. During the same period, Maple Grove and Inver Grove Heights both suffered a decline of 5.4 percentage points and 7.6 percentage points, respectively.

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Mississippi

Among the cities in Mississippi, Hattiesburg and Pearl saw the greatest increases in unemployment, with rates rising by 4.1 percentage points in each city. Hattiesburg’s unemployment rate increased from 10.5% to 14.6%, and Pearl’s rate grew from 4.5% to 8.6%. Additionally, Biloxi has a median household income that’s lower than what it was 10 years ago — $43,632 in 2017 versus $44,528 in 2007.

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Missouri

Both Hazelwood and Florissant saw a decline in home values — changes of 7.64% and 12.05%, respectively — during the period between 2007 and 2019. In Hazelwood, the 2007 median home value was $122,925, which dropped to $113,530 by 2019. Florissant’s median home value was $122,450 in 2007, but by 2019, it had decreased to $107,690.

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Montana

Bozeman experienced a 1.5 percentage point increase in unemployment between 2007 and 2017, going from 3.6% to 5.1%. Within the same period, Missoula’s unemployment rate experienced an increase of 1 percentage point, rising from 5.2% to 6.2%.

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Nebraska

The unemployment rate in Bellevue rose by 0.3 percentage points, going from 5.6% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2017. In Grand Island, unemployment was also on the rise, increasing by 0.8 percentage points, from 5% to 5.8%. In Lincoln, however, it was labor force participation that suffered. Over the decade, the city’s labor force participation rate saw a decline of 2.5 percentage points, dropping from 73.9% to 71.4%.

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Nevada

Home values in North Las Vegas declined by 48.32% from 2007 to 2009. By 2019, the median home value had climbed back up but was still 2.87% below where it sat in 2007. From 2007 to 2017, the unemployment rate in North Las Vegas also increased by 3.5 percentage points, going from 5.4% to 8.9%. And in 2017, the median household income in the city was $55,828 — it was higher in 2007, at $56,716.

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New Hampshire

While most cities in New Hampshire witnessed a decrease in unemployment between 2007 and 2017, Nashua is the only city that had a higher unemployment rate in 2017 than in 2007 — 5.5% vs. 5.3%. However, labor force participation rates declined for all cities in New Hampshire over the decade. As of 2017, none of those rates had recovered to what they were in 2007.

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New Jersey

The median home value in New Brunswick took a nosedive of 10.4% between 2007 and 2019, declining from $300,517 in 2007 to $269,270 in 2019. Plus, the median household income in this city plummeted by 17.86% from 2007 to 2017. The unemployment rate was also notable, increasing by 4.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, from 4.9% to 9.5%.

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New Mexico

Rio Rancho has been the slowest to recover from the recession, and its unemployment rate proves it. The rate increased by 2 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, going from 5.2% to 7.2%. Additionally, the city saw a 6.3 percentage point decrease in its labor participation rate, dropping from 69.5% to 63.2%.

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New York

The median home value in Shirley has declined by 14.55% since 2007, falling from $309,000 to $264,050. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Harrison increased by 3.3 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, going from 4.2% to 7.5%. In Deer Park, a 3 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate occurred over the decade, rising from 3.9% to 6.9%.

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North Carolina

In Rocky Mount, the median home value went from $103,717 in 2007 to $91,460 in 2019 — a decrease of 11.82%. Plus, during the period from 2007 to 2017, the city’s unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points, going from 9.1% to 10.7%. In Matthews, however, the median household income declined by 5.74% during the decade.

North Dakota

Compared to the other cities in North Dakota, Grand Forks has struggled the most in recovering from the Great Recession. While it made gains in some areas, the city’s unemployment level in 2017 was higher than its 2007 rate. Over the decade, the unemployment rate increased by 0.8 percentage points, going from 3.3% to 4.1%.

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Ohio

Garfield Heights has been the hardest-hit Ohio city. The median home value plunged from $103,650 in 2007 to $67,740 in 2019 — a decrease of 34.65%. Plus, it suffered a 2.78% decrease in median household income. During the same period, however, Euclid and Cleveland also experienced plummeting median home values, with decreases of 27.31% and 34.9%, respectively.

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Oklahoma

Midwest City saw the largest unemployment rate increase between 2007 and 2017, when unemployment rose 1.6 percentage points, from 4.1% to 5.7%. Broken Arrow had the second-largest unemployment rate increase — 1.3 percentage points. Owasso and Bartlesville tied for third, with a 1 percentage point increase in each city over the same period.

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Oregon

Labor force participation declined across this Northwestern state from 2007 to 2017. In Albany, the labor force participation rate dropped by 4.9 percentage points, going from 67.5% to 62.6%. Keizer’s decreased by 4.5 percentage points, moving from 66.9% to 62.4%. And in Grants Pass, labor force participation dropped by 3.8 percentage points — 57.2% to 53.4%.

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Pennsylvania

In Harrisburg, the median home value decreased by 18.3% between 2007 and 2019. Home values fell in Scranton too, but more drastically — by 24.26%. Harrisburg also suffered an increase in unemployment, going from 10.2% to 12.8% between 2017 and 2017, which amounted to a change of 2.6 percentage points.

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Rhode Island

Woonsocket has felt the biggest residual effects from the recession. The city’s 2017 median household income was 3.07% below where it stood in 2007. Woonsocket’s labor force participation rate also declined by 1.3 percentage points, going from 61.3% to 60%. And its unemployment rate has risen by 3.2 percentage points over the decade, growing from 5.4% to 8.6%.

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South Carolina

Hilton Head has seen the largest decline in home values, which plummeted by 15.3% between 2007 and 2019. The median home value in Myrtle Beach also took a nosedive, with an 11.09% decline during the same period. Additionally, the unemployment rate in Myrtle Beach increased by 4.5 percentage points, going from 4.7% to 9.2%.

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South Dakota

In Rapid City, the unemployment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points between 2007 and 2009, but it has since declined. However, the city’s labor force participation rate also decreased by 2.9 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, going from 68.6% to 65.7%.

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Tennessee

The unemployment rate in Cookeville rose by 2.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, going from 5.8% to 8.4%. Morristown’s unemployment rate also grew by 3.1 percentage points over the same period, whereas Lebanon saw a slightly lower increase of 3 percentage points. Additionally, labor force participation in Bartlett dropped by 6.1 percentage points, moving from 70.5% to 64.4%.

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Texas

As a result of the Great Recession, Harker Heights has fared the worst among the cities in Texas. Its unemployment rate increased by 2.7 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, jumping from 6.8% to 9.5%. Deer Park wasn’t far behind, with an unemployment rate increase of 2.4 percentage points. Additionally, Harker Heights’ labor force participation rate plummeted by 8 percentage points during the same period.

Read More: States Least Prepared for the Recession

Utah

The unemployment rate in American Fork rose by 3.2 percentage points between 2007 and 2017, from 2% to 5.2%. Meanwhile, St. George and West Jordan saw some of the biggest decreases in labor force participation, with their rates dropping by 3.1 and 2.8 percentage points, respectively.

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Vermont

Burlington experienced a slight decrease of 1.41% in home values between 2007 and 2009, but the median home value has since increased. And while the unemployment rate never increased between 2007 and 2017, labor force participation in the city declined by 1.8 percentage points, dropping from 67.1% to 65.3%.

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Virginia

More than one city in this state experienced a decline in home values between 2007 and 2019. The median home value plunged by 10.5% in Portsmouth, 9.28% in Newport News, 8.57% in Hampton and 8.75% in Suffolk. Additionally, in all four cities, unemployment increased during the same period. In 2017, unemployment rates were still higher than where they were 10 years prior.

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Washington

Unemployment consistently rose from 2007 to 2017 in the cities of South Hill and Olympia, resulting in a 1.3 percentage point increase and a 2.2 percentage point increase, respectively. In Parkland, the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points during the same period. Additionally, South Hill saw the largest decrease in the labor force participation — 6.2 percentage points.

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West Virginia

Between 2007 and 2017, Morgantown experienced the largest increase in unemployment — 2.7 percentage points. However, Huntington saw the largest decrease in labor force participation, with a drop of 2.7 percentage points. Charleston followed close behind with a 2.1 percentage point decrease, going from 61.5% to 59.4% in labor force participation.

Wisconsin

Fitchburg witnessed the largest decrease in median household income, dropping by 4.76% between 2007 and 2017. However, during the same time frame, Fond du Lac and Franklin experienced decreases of 4 percentage points and 5.7 percentage points, respectively, in their labor participation rates. New Berlin fared slightly worse, with a 5.9 percentage point decrease in labor participation.

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Wyoming

Between 2007 and 2017, the unemployment rate in Cheyenne outpaced that of other cities, increasing by 1.4 percentage points, from 4.5% to 5.9%. Laramie followed with an unemployment rate that increased by 0.9 percentage points. However, Gillette was the Wyoming city that saw the biggest dip in labor force participation — 8.2 percentage points — from 82.2% to 74% during the same period.

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Methodology: To find the cities in every state that haven’t recovered from the 2008 recession, GOBankingRates looked at cities with 25,000-plus in total population according to the 2017 American Community Survey. They had to have the following data available: 2007, 2009 and 2019 median home values; 2007, 2009 and 2017 unemployment rates; 2007, 2009 and 2017 labor force participation rates; and 2007, 2009 and 2017 median household incomes. Home value data was sourced from Zillow, and all other data was sourced from the American Community Survey for each respective year. If the criteria were met, the cities moved on to be analyzed across the following eight factors: (1) percentage change in median home value from 2009 through 2019 (how it has recovered since the Great Recession); (2) percentage change in median home value from 2007 through 2019 (how it compares to pre-Great Recession figures); (3) change in unemployment rate from 2009 through 2017 (how it has recovered since the Great Recession); (4) change in unemployment rate from 2007 through 2017 (how it compares to pre-Great Recession figures); (5) change in labor force participation rate from 2009 through 2017 (how it has recovered since the Great Recession); (6) change in labor force participation rate from 2007 through 2017 (how it compares to pre-Great Recession figures); (7) percentage change in median household income from 2009 through 2017 (how it has recovered since the Great Recession); and (8) percentage change in median household income from 2007 through 2017 (how it compares to pre-Great Recession figures). These factors were scored among the other qualifying cities in each respective state. The cities with the highest scores were deemed to be the ones that are the least recovered from the 2008 recession. In final tallies, factors No. 5 and 6 were weighted 1/2 times the other factors. All data used to conduct this study was compiled and verified on Dec. 12, 2019.