Phoenix Economy Among Fastest-growing in U.S.

Phoenix Business Journal by Patrick O’Grady
 

Most people would argue that the Phoenix economy is improving, but according to a new report from the Brookings Institution that growth can be traced back longer than the start of this year.

The institute today released its quarterly MetroMonitor report, which tracks the economic progress of the country’s 100 largest metro areas. The study shows that while things are improving, there is still a long, long way to go for the Valley to recover from the Great Recession.

For the fourth quarter of 2011, Phoenix’s economy ranked as one of the best in the West as well as in the Top 20 of all metro areas in the study, according to the report.

Phoenix was one of five cities in the West that closed out 2011 with four consecutive months of job growth, albeit the growth slowed toward the end of the year. The region still has about 10.3 percent fewer jobs than it had during its 2008 peak, and Phoenix currently sits at No. 93 nationally in terms of job losses.

Manufacturing also ticked up in Phoenix, as the region landed in the Top 40 in terms of production, and was gathering steam toward the end of the year, according to the report. Output, however, was weak, with growth of only 0.3 percent in Phoenix during the last quarter of 2011.

The report also highlights that Western cities such as Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas all saw declines in their unemployment rates in 2011.

There also were price gains on homes, with Phoenix home prices rising 3.1 percent during the quarter, according to the report. Phoenix ranks No. 93 in terms of the overall drop in housing prices, which fell on average more than 54 percent since the fourth quarter of 2006. But the region ranked third in terms of price gains in the fourth quarter.

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