2014’s Most & Least Recession-Recovered Cities
For many American cities, the Great Recession is nothing more than a distant shadow of a troubled economic past. The longest downturn since the Great Depression officially ended five years ago, and cities across the country have more than fully recovered. Some in fact have even surpassed their pre-recession economic levels, thanks to lucrative industries that either sprouted from the ground post-recession or kept cities afloat through the crisis.
And yet the effects of the recession still reverberate in many towns, falling deeper into debt and leaving millions of Americans wondering whether the crisis has indeed been over for a while. Since 2008, a total of 13 municipalities — among them Westfall Township, Pa., Prichard, Ala., Stockton, Calif., and even Detroit — have declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy, a rare occurrence.
Whenever a city is left behind in a recovery, collateral effects are bound to afflict already struggling economies. From a public standpoint, this could lead to further complications: Crime rises, education suffers, local administrations collapse. In the private sector, property values decline and businesses shut down. If and when that happens, skilled workers are forced to seek better opportunities in more thriving communities. And a town that had little hope remaining is completely crippled.
To assess the accomplishments of local economies and how much work remains to be done, WalletHub compared the 150 largest U.S. cities to identify those that have experienced the most and least growth since the recession. We used 18 essential metrics — from the inflow of college-educated workers and number of new businesses to unemployment rates and home price appreciation — to examine how each city has evolved economically in the past several years. Check out the Methodology section at the end of this study for a more detailed description of how we ranked each city.
|Overall Rank||City||Employment and Earning Opportunities Rank||Economic Environment Rank|
|6||Corpus Christi, TX||5||22|
|15||New Orleans, LA||65||7|
|20||San Francisco, CA||8||45|
|25||Baton Rouge, LA||42||24|
|26||Grand Prairie, TX||115||6|
|29||St. Paul, MN||18||43|
|30||Fort Worth, TX||34||32|
|31||Oklahoma City, OK||6||65|
|35||San Jose, CA||12||64|
|42||Jersey City, NJ||49||40|
|43||El Paso, TX||19||71|
|44||Sioux Falls, SD||14||76|
|49||San Antonio, TX||45||62|
|50||New York, NY||55||50|
|53||Santa Rosa, CA||31||77|
|54||Newport News, VA||29||78|
|56||Little Rock, AR||74||51|
|58||Chula Vista, CA||95||42|
|63||St. Petersburg, FL||99||41|
|66||Pembroke Pines, FL||100||49|
|68||Fort Lauderdale, FL||89||63|
|69||Grand Rapids, MI||24||98|
|71||Colorado Springs, CO||63||72|
|72||Kansas City, MO||80||60|
|75||Overland Park, KS||113||43|
|80||Garden Grove, CA||44||89|
|90||Virginia Beach, VA||119||80|
|92||Gilbert Town, AZ||73||99|
|93||Santa Ana, CA||66||104|
|95||Fort Wayne, IN||46||120|
|99||Los Angeles, CA||98||100|
|102||St. Louis, MO||93||105|
|103||San Diego, CA||58||118|
|107||Des Moines, IA||117||101|
|111||Port St. Lucie, FL||35||138|
|112||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||130||93|
|115||Salt Lake City, UT||82||123|
|119||Moreno Valley, CA||55||133|
|122||Las Vegas, NV||149||86|
|127||Santa Clarita, CA||140||106|
|129||Long Beach, CA||107||130|
|134||Huntington Beach, CA||113||135|
|139||North Las Vegas, NV||150||112|
|144||Cape Coral, FL||130||143|
|148||Boise City, ID||62||149|
|150||San Bernardino, CA||141||150|
Local economies still struggling to manage the downturn are in danger of many lasting effects such as losing their skilled workforce or filing for bankruptcy — if allowed by the state — as a last resort. But such cities and individuals in financial straits may be able to avoid extreme measures with some strategizing.
Below, we've expanded the discussion with insight from various experts in the fields of economics, political science, and public management and policy. They offer advice to local policymakers, businesses and the general population as to what they can focus on in both the short and long terms to achieve recovery. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and responses to key questions. You also can click on the left and right arrows to view the comments in the order that the experts appear.
- How can local administrations stimulate speedy economic recovery in their cities?
- Although aimed at lifting a city’s economy, what is the worst decision that a local administration can make?
- Compared with economic incentives and stimulants, how important are other factors such as a city’s culture and entertainment industry to its economic recovery?
- When a city has been negatively impacted by an economic downturn, when should people consider a new place to live? In other words, what signs indicate a good time to relocate?
To evaluate the progress of local cities in propelling their economic growth, WalletHub compared the 150 largest U.S. cities to identify those that have experienced the most and least improvement since the recession. Using 18 key metrics — from the inflow of college-educated workers and number of new businesses to unemployment rates and home price appreciation — we examined how each city has evolved economically in the past several years. By doing so, WalletHub can help consumers assess how their present financial situations might be affected by the economic health of their cities.
For this particular study, we chose each city according to the size of its population. Population, in this case, does not account for residents in the surrounding metropolitan areas. The metrics as well as the corresponding weights we used to construct our overall rankings are based on the most recently available data. The two categories under which the metrics are listed were used for organizational purposes only and did not factor in to our overall rankings.
Employment and Earning Opportunities
- Unemployment Rate Decrease: 0.5
- Inflow Increase of College-Educated Workers (%): 1
- Ratio of Part-Time to Full-Time Jobs Decrease: 1
- Median Household Income Increase: 1
- Median Home Price Appreciation: 1
- Foreclosure Rate Decrease: 1
- Poverty Rate Decrease: 1
- Public Assistance Rate Decrease: 1
- Population Growth Rate Increase: 0.5
- Uninsured Rate Decrease: 1
- Bankruptcy Rate Decrease: 0.25
- Number of Businesses Growth: 0.5
- Average Experian Vantage Credit Score Increase: 0.5
- Consumer Non-Housing Debt Decrease: 2
- Violent Crime Rate Decrease: 1
- GDP Growth Rate: 0.5
- Opportunity to Start a Business Ranking: 0.25
- Municipality Bankruptcy: 2
Sources: Data used to create these rankings is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics, the United States Courts, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, Zillow Real Estate Research, Experian, PBS NewsHour and WalletHub Research.