Richard Shearer

Last month the Metro Program released its latest report card for the nation’s 100 largest metro economies, the MetroMonitor. The report, which evaluates economic performance through the third quarter of 2012, revealed that as the economic recovery continues to play out slowly across the country, some of the metros hit hardest by the recession are seeing surprising rebounds from their lows. The Phoenix, Ariz. metropolitan area epitomizes this trend. After a precipitous fall into the recession, the region is making notable progress.

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It’s game day.  Kentucky’s two largest metro areas face off tonight as the University of Louisville Cardinals and the University of Kentucky Wildcats, of Lexington, go head-to-head in New Orleans in the final showdown before Monday’s NCAA championship game. As this legendary rivalry reaches its boiling point this weekend, you won’t see a punch fly between Mayor Fischer of Louisville and Mayor Gray of Lexington.  Instead, behind their playful wager and exchange of good-luck bourbon and IPA, these two mayors and their metros are acting in stark contrast to their teams’ fierce on-court competitio

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This morning’s jobs report exceeded the hopes of many, ending a week of rather dismal economic news on a high note. The economy added 117,000 jobs in July. The unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, the same as it was in June according to that month’s revised numbers. While there are probably few occasions that a national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent has seemed like good news, this was one of them. It’s not “good” news everywhere across the nation, though. The unemployment rate exceeded 9.1 percent in 21 states during the month of June.

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Last Friday’s jobs report brought some glum news. The unemployment rate remained pretty much the same from April to May of this year and the economy had added fewer jobs than needed to achieve a meaningful recovery anytime soon.

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The jobs report released earlier this month revealed that the unemployment rate had fallen a full percentage point since a year earlier, from 10.2 percent in March 2010 to 9.2 percent in March 2011 (seasonally unadjusted). However, numbers released Wednesday suggest that the pace of the jobs recovery remains highly uneven among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, and for a variety of reasons. During the recession unemployment was most severe in the metros most exposed to the housing bust and in those most dependent on the auto industry.

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Is globalization fraying the ties that bind?

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The 21 largest metropolitan areas of the hard-hit Great Lakes region added more than 94,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2010--the largest one-quarter employment increase these places have seen in more than a decade. What’s even more surprising? The manufacturing sector accounted for more than a quarter of these job gains. But despite these momentous one-quarter gains, the condition of the Great Lakes region’s major metropolitan areas nearly three years after the beginning of the Great Recession remains similar to that of the U.S.

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Last week’s jobs report turned out to be a general disappointment, but it was probably especially troubling to metros that rely heavily on construction for jobs and output. That industry shed another 22,000 jobs in June, completely wiping out small gains it had made in February and March of this year. Since the start of the national recession in December of 2007, construction has lost a whopping 1.9 million jobs—or more than a quarter of its pre-recession employment level. Not surprisingly, metros across the country are not absorbing these declines uniformly.

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