Jonathan J. Higuera

Phoenix economy perks up

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Amid a tenuous national economic recovery, slowed by shaky job growth and softening GDP, Metro Phoenix’s economy had a better go of it during the first quarter of 2012 than most other cities across the U.S., according to a report released by the Brooking Institute in June.

The report, which examined the economic performance of the 100 largest cities and metro areas in the nation, ranked Metro Phoenix as the fifth strongest economy in the nation, largely attributable to a recovering housing market. Phoenix ranked second in the nation for housing prices, even though the report indicated that prices fell 0.9 percent in the most recent quarter. This was, however, lower than the national average, which saw housing values drop 2.1 percent during that same period.

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Several Mountain West cities outperformed national averages. For example, Denver had 1.3 percent job growth and Las Vegas led the nation in rising economic output (GDP) at 1.6 percent. However, it was an uneven performance among Mountain West cities. Albuquerque, Tucson and Colorado Springs did not perform well, languishing near the bottom in several categories.

Specifically, Phoenix ranked 20th among the 100 top metros for its unemployment rate, which fell slightly to 7.6 percent in the first quarter. The Phoenix area ranked poorly for gross metropolitan output in the first quarter, placing 90th in the nation.

Perhaps its best to view the local economy in the context of a tepid national recovery. Considering where we were two years ago, the positive direction is a welcome relief.

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