Brookings report: Knoxville economy improving

Job creation remains sluggish and housing prices continue to fall, but Knoxville’s regional economy is in better shape than most of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country, according to a Brookings Institution report released today.

Knoxville ranks 22nd in unemployment rate — 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 — and 24th in employment rate change — 0.3 percent growth — from the third to the fourth quarter, according to Brookings March 2011 MetroMonitor.

Metro Knoxville’s gross metropolitan product has grown 4.8 percent since the second quarter of 2009 (the official end of the recession), good for a 45th ranking. However, Knoxville’s 1 percent GMP growth in the fourth quarter ranked 27th in the country.

A rank of 1 represents the best performance and a rank of 100 is the weakest.

As for the housing market, metro Knoxville’s prices are down 8.2 percent from their peak in the first quarter of 2007 prior to the recession, 17th best performance in the country. Nationwide, housing prices have dropped 23.6 percent since the market peak.

Overall, the 100 largest metros saw their economies improve in the fourth quarter.

“For the first time since the first quarter of 2010, all of the 100 largest metropolitan areas had growth in output in the fourth quarter of 2010,” the report says.

However, the labor market was inconsistent and the housing market was mixed.

“Job growth was sluggish and unemployment rates, although lower than at the end of 2009 in most large metropolitan areas, remained very high,” Brookings says. “Housing market performance was mixed; house prices fell in nearly all large metropolitan areas, but the pace of foreclosures slowed. As always, metropolitan economic performance varied greatly among the 100 largest metropolitan areas.”

Brookings is a non a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, DC.

Read the full MetroMonitor report:

Tracking Economic Recession and Recovery in America’s 100 Largest Metropolitan Areas

Interactive MetroMonitor maps