Why You’re Not Feeling the Recovery

by Sara Clemence on June 18, 2009 in News

brookings metro economies mapThe market is up. Home foreclosures are down. Unemployment rolls have shrunk, and some people think the downturn is winding up. So how come you’re not seeing it?

You picked the wrong city.

If you live in Austin, Dallas or—amazingly—Pittsburgh, you have a better chance of being on the upswing. Out of the biggest 100 metropolitan areas, they’re among those with the strongest economies right now, according to the Brookings Institution, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. People who live in Fresno, Las Vegas or Providence: you’re screwed. They’re in the bottom 20.

Part of the point of the Brookings study is, our country doesn’t have one big, homogenous economy, but hundreds of smaller ones (366, to be exact). Every area has a distinct job market, housing market and business focus, and has been hit by the downturn differently. So just because the big picture is improving doesn’t mean yours is. Consider this factoid:

“In March 2009 the unemployment rate ranged from 5.1 percent in Provo to 17.5 percent in Modesto. From the beginning of 2008 through the beginning of 2009, home prices fell by 30.6 percent in Stockton but rose by 4.7 percent in Houston.”

The recoveries are also going to be—forgive us—all over the map.

20 Strongest Metro Areas*
Albuquerque, NM
Austin-Round Rock, TX
Baton Rouge, LA
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Des Moines, IA
El Paso, TX
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA
Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, TX
Little Rock-North Little Rock, AR
McAllen-Edinburg-Pharr, TX
New Haven-Milford, CT
Oklahoma City, OK
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA
Pittsburgh, PA
Rochester, NY
San Antonio, TX
Tulsa, OK
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
Wichita, KS

20 Weakest Metro Areas
Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice, FL
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI
Fresno, CA
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI
Jacksonville, FL
Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL
Modesto, CA
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA
Stockton, CA
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
Toledo, OH
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA

* Out of the top 100 largest. Source: The Brookings Institution.

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