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Storm Clouds Everyone's looking for a hint -- a tiny hint -- of good economic news, and I wish I had some. Although the latest MetroMonitor report from the Brookings Institution might have some on first blush, it doesn't take much reading to see the sobering trends just below the surface. Most large metropolitan areas showed growth in jobs and output during the second quarter, the report says, but the growth was painfully slow. The bottom line, says Howard Wial, a Brookings Institution fellow who co-authored the report, is that the economy "is stuck running in place and running out of breath." The report documents an overall sluggishness many people have suspected: Unemployment rates remained high. Government employment continued to fall in most areas. Housing prices hit new lows, even though the number of foreclosures fell in half of the top regions. Since the beginning of the recession, workers’ earnings have fallen in slightly more than half of the areas. Says Wial:
Nearly all the metropolitan areas whose economies suffered the least since the start of the recession rely substantially on government, education, or energy production and had increases in government employment since the start of the recession…. Meanwhile, nearly all the metropolitan areas that suffered the most since the beginning of the recession either experienced a large house price boom and bust or depend heavily on auto and auto parts manufacturing.
FYI, the best performing cities were (alphabetically):
  • Albany, NY
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA-NH
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Dallas, TX
  • El Paso, TX
  • Hartford, CT
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Houston, TX
  • Knoxville, TN
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Madison, WI
  • Nashville, TN
  • Oklahoma City OK
  • Omaha, NE
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Rochester, NY
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Syracuse, NY
  • Washington, DC-VA-MD
And the worst, again alphabetically:
  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Boise, ID
  • Cape Coral, FL
  • Detroit, MI
  • Fresno, CA
  • Lakeland, FL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Miami, FL
  • Modesto, CA
  • New Orleans, LA
  • North Port, FL
  • Orlando, FL
  • Palm Bay, FL
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Riverside, CA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Stockton, CA
  • Tampa, FL