Real Time Economics provides a nice online list of unemployment rates by metropolitan area. It’s fascinating to scroll through. Things I noted:
1) The top of the list if very geographically concentrated. CA, MI, FL, and OH appear again and again. It’s pretty easy to identify the places — the West Coast, the southern Atlantic coast, the Midwest — where things are worst, but it seems very clear that the recession in California and Michigan is an entirely different animal than the recession everywhere else. But the big takeaway is that the cities with above average rates are concentrated in just a few states.
2) There’s surprising strength in the eastern Rust Belt. Look who has a below average unemployment rate: Buffalo, Scranton, Syracuse, York, Pittsburgh. Not what I was expecting.
3) The resilient big metros are in the northeast corridor and in Texas. Boston, New York, Philly, Baltimore, and Washington are all well below average. Houston and Dallas, too. Funny thing is, the northeastern corridor had a pretty substantial housing bubble, while the bubble was basically nonexistent in Texas.
4) It’s good to be a college town.
5) It’s good to be Washington, DC. But you all knew that. The only major metropolitan area with a lower unemployment rate than Washington is (and I don’t understand this) New Orleans.
6) Rates differ dramatically across metros. There is a surprisingly large number of metro areas with unemployment at 7% or below. Their experience of this recession is going to be sharply different from those with rates at 9% or above (which is also a large number). One wonders how recovery will differ between the two groups, and how things like political opinion will move based on the differences. But as bad as things seem to us here in the Washington area, it seems clear that we have no conception what the pain is like in Michigan or inland California.