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Published: Sunday, 3/13/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Economic recovery is mixed bag in Toledo

Jobless rate falling, but area still weak

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The Brookings Institution study finds Toledo's falling unemployment rate was the fourth-fastest in the nation in the fourth quarter of 2010. The Brookings Institution study finds Toledo's falling unemployment rate was the fourth-fastest in the nation in the fourth quarter of 2010.
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Toledo is doing a little better than other cities in some areas of its recovery and a lot worse than others in some categories, according to a study released today on economic conditions in the nation's 100 largest metro areas.

The Brookings Institution study finds Toledo's falling unemployment rate was the fourth-fastest in the nation in the fourth quarter of 2010, shedding 2.1 percentage points in a one-year period.

However, for the number of jobs lost across the four-county metro area since its most recent employment peak -- in the first quarter of 2006 -- metro Toledo ranked 94th out of 100, having lost 12.4 percent of the total jobs.

Toledo ranked 93rd in terms of its lost gross metropolitan product -- the sum of goods and services created in the local economy. The study found the metro area had shed 6.1 percent of its total output since the third quarter of 2005.

The region was in the middle of the pack in terms of housing prices and foreclosed properties. Overall, metro Toledo continued to be one of the 20 weakest-performing metro economies in the nation, the study found. Also in the lowest 20 were Cleveland, Dayton, Youngstown, and Detroit.

"What you see in Toledo in the numbers is not very different from what you see in a place like Detroit or Dayton. Some of this just indicates that for a lot of Ohio's metros, the downturn started well before 2007," said Jennifer Bradley, a spokesman with Brookings' metro research project. "What we're finding now is that the story is not changing dramatically from quarter to quarter. We're kind of in a steady state right now."

Nationwide, Brookings economic researchers found:

● Most large metro areas are adding jobs again, but slowly. Employment rebounded from its low point in most of the largest metropolitan areas, but only four have gained back more than half the jobs they lost between their employment peak and their post-recession employment low point, and only one -- McAllen, Texas -- had fully recovered.

● Syracuse was the only metro area in the Great Lakes region that had a higher unemployment rate in December than it did a year ago, but all 100 of the nation's largest metro regions had higher unemployment rates in December than they did three years earlier.

● In terms of their gross metropolitan product, more than half of the 100 largest metropolitan areas had restored their pre-recession output by the fourth quarter of 2010. Housing prices continued to decline in nearly all large metro areas, with only Honolulu and San Jose experiencing price increases over the last year.

"The picture for 2010 is not great, but it's much better than it was," said Jim Coons, an economist and head of J.W. Coons Advisors LLC in Columbus. "I think the leading indicators are pretty strongly consistent with continuing economic growth at a moderate pace. It's not like the economy is fragile and we're in danger of slipping back into recession, unless we get hit by another shock."

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091



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