Detroit, Grand Rapids among nation’s strongest-performing areas, Brookings Institution study finds

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Courtesy of Detrot Free Press:s

In yet another sign of the turnaround in the state’s economy, Detroit and Grand Rapids rank among the 20 strongest-performing metropolitan areas in the country, according to a report being released today from the Brookings Institution.

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank examined how the nation’s 100 largest metro areas fared since their recoveries began, using changes in employment, unemployment rates, gross metropolitan product and housing prices to determine the rankings.

“The recovery in Detroit is a manufacturing-led recovery,” said Howard Wial, one of the authors of the MetroMonitor report and a Brookings fellow and economist. “Detroit has a good shot at continuing a relatively good recovery.”

The report examined economic data through the end of September.

Overall, it found that growth in economic output “accelerated during the third quarter in nearly all large metropolitan areas, but job growth slowed in most.”

Of the 100 metro areas examined, just six have recovered all the jobs they lost since their employment peaked before the recession.

Five of these areas are in Texas — Austin, El Paso, Houston, McAllen and San Antonio — and one in Massachusetts — Worcester.

After a brutal recession, Michigan’s economy began growing again in 2010, largely driven by the Detroit automakers’ comeback. The Brookings data show that even though metro Detroit’s economy still suffers from high unemployment and a huge inventory of foreclosed homes, things may be getting better on several fronts:

• Housing prices: The Federal Housing Finance Administration’s House Price Index for metro Detroit has risen 2.5% since the recovery began in the region.

That was the third-largest gain among the 100 biggest metro areas in the country.

• Employment growth: Since the economy hit bottom, the number of jobs in metro Detroit has increased 2.1%, compared with a 1.2% average gain for the country’s 100 largest metro areas.

• Gross metropolitan product: Detroit has lagged behind many other regions when it comes to increasing its economic output, ranking 63rd among the 100 biggest metro areas.

But output — the inflation-adjusted total value of all goods and services produced — rose 0.58% from this year’s second quarter to the third quarter, putting metro Detroit in the 38th spot.

• Unemployment rate: From September 2008 to September 2011, metro Detroit saw a 2.8% increase in its unemployment rate, matching the average change for the U.S. as a whole.

But from September 2010 to September 2011, the area’s unemployment rate declined by 0.8%, better than the 0.5% average decrease for the 100 largest metro areas.

Michigan’s rate dropped to 9.8% in November, the first time it dropped below 10% in three years.

Contact Katherine Yung: 313-222-8763 or kyung@freepress.com

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