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Brookings Institution: MetroMonitor March 2011

In its March 2011 MetroMonitor report on the fourth quarter of 2010, the Brookings Institution says economic growth was widespread at year's end, but labor markets have yet to catch up.

At the end of the fourth quarter of 2010, the 100 biggest metro areas in the United States saw strong widespread growth in economic output, but labor markets remained inconsistent and unsteady, the Brookings Institute reports in its March MetroMonitor. While unemployment rates were lower than the year previous, job growth was still slow.

The 20 overall strongest-performing metros were:
• Albuquerque
• Augusta, Georgia-South Carolina
• Austin, Texas
• Baltimore
• Columbia, South Carolina
• Dallas
• Denver
• El Paso
• Hartford, Connecticut
• Jackson, Mississippi
• Little Rock
• Louisville, Kentucky-Indiana
• McAllen, Texas
• Oklahoma City
• Pittsburgh
• Raleigh
• Salt Lake City
• San Antonio
• Scranton, Pennsylvania
• Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland

The strength of recovery in a metro area is not very closely tied to how low it fell during recession. Areas that have recovered most rapidly tend to be those that rely strongly on government or the oil and gas sectors. Employment in healthcare and education also protected the economies of these metros.

Overall, 49 of the 100 biggest metros experienced job growth in the fourth quarter of 2010. Only 14 experienced at least three quarters of job growth last year. Austin, Texas; Boston; Charleston, South Carolina; and Minneapolis-St. Paul saw job growth every quarter of 2010.

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