Economic data from metro areas shows a mixed recovery


As the nation moves into a new year, economic data from Brookings latest Metro Monitor shows a mixed bag of recovery. The unemployment rate continues to edge down and overall positive economic data in major metro areas nationwide is positive. Despite that, one of the statistics presented points to troubling stagnation. Overall quarter-over-quarter GDP growth has held at 0.7% with little fluctuation since Q3 2011, in fact recent gains in output only serve to make up for losses in other quarters.

Brookings has compiled an interactive map that allows users to click on a metro area and learn more about its overall recovery (or lack thereof) relative to the rest of those included in the study. They’ve also provided some broad national rankings over the four categories of employment, unemployment, GDP and housing prices.

Most of the positive recovery data comes from the West, with cities like Portland improving its employment number by 4.5% and GDP by a whopping 21%. In the East, economic indicators have remained stagnant – home prices are unchanged and states from New York to Virginia have little to show for improvements in employment or GDP.

Recovery has been the choppiest in the middle, where states like colorado show wide disparities within the state. Denver for example has improved in employment (4.8%) and housing prices (2.7%) but has dropped overall from 32nd to 36th in its national ranking. Colorado Springs, one of the larger metro areas outside of Denver has maintained its ranking at 75th in the study, with only marginal improvements in housing prices and employment.

“The overall pace of economic recovery was strong in a handful of areas including Texas, where the recession was less severe and oil and gas have boomed; in western Florida and parts of California and the Intermountain West where the housing and labor markets are rebounding; in some Midwestern manufacturing centers like Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Toledo; and in the Pacific Northwest. By contrast, the recovery has proceeded more slowly in the Northeast where many metro areas had relatively minor recessions when compared with faster-recovering markets. As a result, they are closer to pre-recession levels of jobs, output, and home prices than many harder hit places,” report authors write.

Users of the interactive map can also download full data sets from Brookings that were used in the study.