Monday, January 4, 2010

Metro Monitor Maps

The Brookings Institution does this thing called a Metro Monitor. It monitors metros, economics-wise, and it comes with some maps. This one shows overall performance:

metro monitow overall performance map

It's based on four factors: "employment change from peak; unemployment rate change from one year ago; gross metropolitan product change from peak; and housing price index change from one year ago."

This one shows employment change. It explains itself:

metro monitor employment change map

And this one just shows straight-up unemployment:

metro monitor unemployment map

Says the accompanying report:
Nationwide, the recession is over—at least in the view of most economists in light of third quarter 2009 indicators. They revealed a real U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at a 2.8 percent annual rate, after four consecutive quarters of contraction. Most interpreted that rate of output growth, along with other signals such as increasing housing prices, as indication that the economic recovery is underway.

Yet the recovery seems fragile. The output increase may have resulted largely from the replenishment of manufacturing inventories and from temporary federal policies: the “cash-for-clunkers” program (already over), the first-time homebuyer tax credit (now extended through April 2010), and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s economic stimulus. As the effects of these policies recede, the recovery could slow or give way to yet another recession or a prolonged period of economic stagnation.

Real recovery in the labor market, moreover, remains elusive. Although output grew between July and September of 2009, the total number of U.S. jobs continued to decline. Payroll employment dropped by about 600,000 during the third quarter (about half the decline of the previous quarter), and the unemployment rate climbed to 9.8 percent by September. While the most recent national-level report showed a significant slowing of job losses in November, and a slight downtick in unemployment, the national economy still seems a long way from posting the sustained job gains that would meaningfully lower unemployment and boost incomes.
I'll be honest: this article seemed kind of boring so I didn't really read it. I assume it said what we all know - the economy blows and there aren't enough jobs. But it did helpfully put a few points in bold, so we can skip right to those:

  • Metro areas continued to register highly disparate economic performance even as the nation showed early signs of recovery.
  • Six metro areas—Albuquerque, Austin, McAllen, San Antonio, Virginia Beach, and Washington, DC—had regained their pre-recession peak level of output by the third quarter.
  • Recovery seemed to be underway in most metro areas, but job growth remained spotty.
  • The first-time homebuyer tax credit appeared to boost economic growth in nearly all metro areas.
  • The “cash-for-clunkers” program boosted economic growth in most metro areas, and probably accounted for the improved rankings of auto production-specialized metro areas.[By the way, it is the official economic analysis of The Map Scroll that the government's efforts to continue to encourage home and car buying is propping up a failed economic model and merely delaying the inevitable transition to a non car-and-sprawl based economy while squandering tax dollars in the process. Our qualifications for making this analysis are various and broad.]
  • The rate of metropolitan job losses in construction, manufacturing, and administrative services slowed considerably in the third quarter.
  • Home prices stabilized or grew in an increasing number of metro areas, but inventories of real estate-owned properties (REOs) continued to mount overall.
This report is from December. The next update will come out in March, and it will probably show improvement, though according to Paul Krugman, there's a strong danger of the economy taking another brody later in 2010. We'll see. In the meantime, So long, Florida, and thanks for all the fish!


Richard said...

Yeah, Florida's in trouble, especially considering that most of it will be underwater in a few decades. The West is sufferring as well. The Plains are doing best (possibly because their economy is more affected by agriculture and other commodities more than any othre part of the country. The Northeast is hanging in there rather well, considering housing there had the same bubble that took place in FL, AZ, NV, CA, etc.

BTW, I agree; as a way to stimulate the economy, the cash-for-clunkers and homebuyer programs are possibly the worst possible, most inefficient, most unfair ways you can come up to do so. Dropping bundles of cash on city streets would be better in all regards.

eric said...

The metro areas that have regained pre-recession levels are either in Texas (oil) or around DC (govt.). In the rest of the country the economy basically, as you say, blows. And Richard, I'm with you--let's drop some cash onto the streets--much better than giving it to the banks and trying to prop up the appropriately crashing car and house markets.

Chachy said...

Richard - this is a rather alarming amount of agreement between you and me. Just for the record, a significant portion of the stimulus was, in fact, dropping money on the street, for all intents and purposes - specifically in the form of payroll tax cuts that most people didn't even notice they received, but which were probably among the more stimulative parts of the stimulus, since it was cash people were inclined to spend right away.

Andrew B said...


"Yeah, Florida's in trouble, especially considering that most of it will be underwater in a few decades."

Most of Florida is ALREADY underwater. Good lord, have you people never seen the state once you leave I 95 to the west or I 75 to the east?

Andrew B said...

This recession really seems concentrated in the I75 corridor (auto manufacturing) and the Far West/West Coast (Idaho/Nevada/Arizona and west) parts of the county. Great plains, midwest + mid-atlantic + upstate NY all seem to be pulling through okay.

Based on that, I'd say when the auto market gets healthy, the economy will be mostly revived, leaving just California and Florida struggling with their housing woes.

Richard said...

I doubt the US auto industry will get healthy in the next 10 years. Maybe if they restructure like the steel companies did in the '90's, they'll be healthy in 2 decades, but the management of those companies are awful.

Andrew B said...

I doubt the US auto industry will get healthy in the next 10 years.

If present auto-sales trends continued indefinitely for 10 years, the American vehicle fleet would undergo a massive aging, requiring many more auto-parts stores and repair garages.

A trend of sales 40% below normal cannot continue indefinitely, especially with a growing population. Cars and trucks break and are wrecked and need to be replaced. People can only hold off from buying a new vehicle for so long before their current one falls apart or requires monthly maintenance equivalent to a new car payment.

but the management of those companies are awful.

The American auto industry is far larger than the big 3, and includes all the foreign plants in the South.

Kevin Blogle said...

[Quote ="Chachy"]the inevitable transition to a non car-and-sprawl based economy[/quote]

I really doubt that this transition will happen, and if it does, it won't be any time in our lifetime. Look at the last decade--although we have the technology to make a smaller more efficient car, trends in America are bigger=better. Beyond that, the amount of cars produced and used world wide is growing at astronomical rates as more nations are becoming industrialized and citizens have more income (China! Watch out now!).

Bottom line is, people love cars. Most of the world grows up idolizing cars from a young age. Cars are sechsie. Buses and other forms of public transportation are not.

In my car I can have 6 cup holders, heated seats (the car can warm up remotely!), Beethoven blasting through my sub woofer or quite if I prefer. Compare that to the bus. Waiting in the elements, dealing with crowds and crazies, no control of the environment. People are not going to choose this alternative. It's not sexy. And for this reason, plus others, cars are here to stay.

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