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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

June 27, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Metro Seattle enjoys strong first quarter || Jon Talton

The first quarter results of the Brookings Institution’s MetroMonitor are out, looking at the economies of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in America. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 28th overall, performing better than the nation overall. Most sectors showed job gains, including strong growth in manufacturing. Losers included government and mining.

“The economic news varies widely, depending on where you live,” according to Alec Friedhoff, a research analyst with the Metropolitan Policy Program and lead developer of the MetroMonitor. “Texas metros weren’t hit as hard in the recession, and their recovery remains stronger. Certain high-tech regions, manufacturing centers, and places in the Mountain West have rebounded recently. But parts of the West and Florida, and regions where government employment was important, are struggling due to a fragile housing market and public sector job cuts.”

You can make of this what you wish. It should be noted that Texas benefits from being an energy power, as well as receiving huge amounts of federal money. But metro Phoenix as No. 5? That doesn’t pass the smell test, having recently visited what remains a deeply depressed economy. Indeed, Phoenix ranked 90th in output.

Part of the problem is that the metrics don’t count such things as whether the jobs being created are well-paying or not, the trade muscle of a metro or the diversity of the economy. This is not to be Seattle smug. For example, unemployment here has eased and is doing better than the average metro, but employment remains well below its 2007 peak. Metro Portland ranked 17th overall for the first quarter. No 1? That would be New Orleans. So my take is that the index is heavily weighted to how much a hole one had to dig out of.

And Don’t Miss: States lacking income tax get no boost to growth || Bloomberg

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Oh, Obamacare

You hang by a slender thread

Oh, just five voters

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