The Brookings Institution established its Metro Monitor program during the Late Unpleasantness to measure how the nation’s 100 metropolitan areas — the chief economic engines of America — were performing. First quarter 2014 data are out and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue comes in…so-so.
• In total full- and part-time jobs, the metro area ranked 30th in the five years of the recovery, up 8.4 percent. It was in the middle of the pack during the recession, losing 6.6 percent of jobs. But from the trough to the first quarter, job growth was only 1.3 percent, 31st out of 100.
• In output, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue ranked 17th in the recovery, up 15.2 percent. The same rank held from recession to recovery, up 10.5 percent.
• House prices put us at 59th as of the first quarter, up 12.3 percent, but still down 27.2 percent from recession to recovery (59th).
• Overall economic performance from these metrics: metro Seattle ranks 25th in the recovery and 33rd from recession to recovery.
Elsewhere in the Northwest: metro Portland 9th in the recovery and 16th recession to recovery; Boise, 22nd and 56th.
Here are the limitations of the report: First, the metro area is weighed down by the (no offense) relatively weaker performance of Tacoma. Second, the extremely metrics are limited (compare with my state report from yesterday). This is mainly a problem with lack of timely metro data. But we know Seattle is booming; the report doesn’t show it.
This results in some odd outcomes. Austin comes in No. 1, but this is mainly an artifice of a small metropolitan statistical area where the city’s technology heft is disproportionately felt. San Antonio is No. 3, but on any deep dig of economic quality, SA couldn’t touch Seattle except in superior Mexican food — and it has an NBA team.
Still, even this measure shows the continued lesser depression in the Sun Belt. Metro Phoenix ranks 86th, California’s “Inland Empire” 93rd, Las Vegas 100th and Florida’s metros all deep in the dumps. And Texas? Texas is special.
You can download the entire report and use the interactive map here.
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