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Brookings Mountain West

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The quarter’s Mountain Monitor finds that the pace of economic recovery in the Mountain West region’s major metropolitan areas converged toward that of the rest of the nation in the last quarter of 2013.

While quarterly performance on the Monitor’s four indicators of economic recovery—employment, output, the unemployment rate, and house prices—varied considerably across the 10 major metro areas of the region, their combined performance broadly slowed to track with the rate of national economic recovery. The quarter’s average job growth remained unchanged in the region at 0.4 percent as the national economy caught up. The gap between the national unemployment rate and the average unemployment rate in the region narrowed to only 0.3 percentage points. Output growth slowed both in the Mountain West and nationally. And the pace of the Mountain West housing recovery slackened somewhat even as house price appreciation accelerated nationally.

Performance naturally varied by metro area, however. Tucson finally saw the value of its output exceed pre-recession levels as neighboring Phoenix closed 2013 on the cusp of reaching the same milestone. Albuquerque’s feeble recovery stalled again in the fourth quarter. Continued recovery on all indicators has left Boise looking less and less like the Sun Belt housing bust case study it resembled immediately after the recession and increasingly like peers in Colorado and Utah. Denver and Colorado Springs both saw unemployment decline solidly but otherwise their performance diverged. For their part, Utah’s three major metro areas continued to perform robustly on most metrics.


Economic development; Housing – Prices; Metropolitan areas – Economic aspects; Recessions; Southwest (U.S); Unemployment


Economic Theory | Growth and Development | Health Economics | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Real Estate | Work, Economy and Organizations