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Recovery to prerecession levels

On June 22, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said U.S. economic growth is "continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly" than previously anticipated, according to Bloomberg.

Of course, not all cities are created equal, according to data and analysis from the Brookings Institution's quarterly review of economic indicators of metropolitan areas across the country.

Anchored by large research institutions, military bases, and other stable employers, some metro areas, from Boston to Columbus to El Paso, have shown more resilience to the downturn than others. There is no suggestion that any area has been exempt from the social ills that resulted from the downturn. Unemployment remains in double digits around much of the country, with the Fresno (Calif.) area showing more than 18 percent unemployment in March. The top areas in this survey are down around 5 percent or 6 percent, with Honolulu showing the lowest unemployment.

The economic picture, even within states, can vary drastically. The major indicators—employment, gross metro product, and housing prices—show that some cities have fared better during two years of expansion by the world's largest economy.

Read on to see which U.S. metros have recovered to their prerecession levels.

The Brookings Institution ranked the 100 largest metros by averaging the rankings for four key indicators: employment change, unemployment change, gross metropolitan product, and home price change. Employment was measured by the change from the peak quarter for each metro to the first quarter of 2011. The peak was the quarter in which the metro area had the most jobs during the past five years. The unemployment rate was measured from March 2008 to March 2011. Gross metropolitan product was measured from the peak quarter to the first quarter of 2011. And the ranking of home prices compared the first quarter of 2011 with the previous quarter. The employment data were provided by Moody's, the unemployment data were collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the home price index came from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Source: The Brookings Institution's MetroMonitor
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