The Brookings Institution has released their Metro Monitor update for December 2012, and the data for the Stockton region is mixed. As mentioned before on this site, Brookings uses employment, economic output and housing data to determine which cities are recovering fastest in relation to the worst of the recession. In September’s Metro Monitor, Stockton was ranked 37th in the country for recovery performance. This quarter,* Brookings’ methodology vaulted Stockton up to 17th place out of the top 100 metro areas. The Metro Monitor determines these rankings by comparing how much economic progress cities have made since they hit their respective “troughs”– their lowest points economically during the recession. In laymen’s terms, cities that score well in this metric are currently recovering at faster rates than those cities farther down the list.
While it’s nice to see the region performing well on Brookings’ recovery index, the news should be taken in perspective. Because Stockton fell so hard during the recession, the region has much more ground to make up, which does not make this ranking too surprising. By comparison, cities that weathered the recession fairly well don’t have much ground to make up. Some cities are actually already back to pre-recession levels and therefore would not be making big strides in recovery.
There is still a very long way to go before Stockton returns to boom-year levels. When comparing recoveries to peak economic levels from around 2007, Stockton places 96th overall. Central Valley cities in general place near the bottom when using this metric. Conclusion: Stockton ranks highly in today’s recovery index because other cities are already done recovering. While Stockton’s recovery is real, keep in mind there is a long road ahead before we can say that the city has truly recovered.
*While released in December, Brookings’ Metro Monitor reports data from July to September of this year.