The recession is dragging everyone down, but some parts of the U.S. are bouncing back faster than others. Howard Wial, a Brookings fellow, looked at how the recession has affected the country’s major metropolitan areas and which places are recovering faster than others. He factored in job changes, the unemployment rate, economic output and house prices, and this is what he’s found:


More specifically, here are the best and worst performers.

Interestingly, some metropolitan areas that were particularly hard hit by the recession—in California and the Great Lakes, specifically—have managed to recover relatively quickly, while much of the South and some Mountain states have lagged behind.Wial explains how regional industries have helped some of these places bounce back faster than others.

Great Lakes metropolitan areas that specialize in the production of autos, auto parts, and related durable goods are recovering strongly from the recession. Akron, Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Toledo, and Youngstown are among the 20 metropolitan areas that have had the strongest economic recoveries, and other auto-producing centers of the Great Lakes are also recovering relatively rapidly...Another major group of strongly recovering metropolitan areas is in Texas and nearby states...Their specializations in oil and gas are contributing to their strong recoveries. Finally, some high technology centers are recovering strongly, in part because of the current upturn in the information technology industry. These include San Jose and Portland, OR...

Most of the metropolitan areas with the weakest recoveries, other than those with severe house price declines, are government (including military) centers (Atlanta, Augusta, Colorado Springs, Columbia, Denver, El Paso, Jackson, Little Rock) and/or transportation/warehousing hubs (Atlanta, Jackson, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis).

His analysis also highlights the challenge of scaling up such regional recoveries: While oil and gas have helped Texas and its neighbors come back, you can’t simply bring these industries to other states.