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Brookings: Intermountain Region Disproportionally Affected By Recession; Recovery Spotty

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Disparate economic links between states among the factors leading to pockets of recovery in some cities (Colorado Springs, Albuquerque and Denver) with continuing recession in others (Las Vegas, Phoenix and Boise)
Research  |  Dec 15, 2009  |  By UNLV Media Relations
Media Contact: Contact: UNLV Office of Public Affairs (702) 895-3102

LAS VEGAS - December 15, 2009 - According to the regional report, national economic indicators show the country improving slowly toward a "fragile recovery;" however, the largest Intermountain West metro areas have suffered disproportionally compared to the rest of the country.

Looking at five key indicators - unemployment, employment, output, home prices and foreclosure rates, a new quarterly publication of the Brookings Mountain West Initiative at UNLV - Mountain Monitor - examines the economies of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Mountain Monitor is a companion newsletter to the national publication MetroMonitor from the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

"Through quarterly reports on the six-state region, the Mountain Monitor offers detailed economic data and analysis to inform political, business, and social policies," said Mark Muro, research director for Brookings Mountain West. "This is the first of many Brookings Mountain West contributions to this region."

"I was particularly drawn to the statements on the need for economic diversification," said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. "Brookings Mountain West has illustrated the critical role of higher education in economic diversification and resiliency. The data in the Mountain Monitor serves as a guide to the investments our states should make now to avoid future boom-bust cycles in the regional economy."

Additional findings:
o An indication that higher educational attainment in the population, and robust social services significantly affect economic resiliency.
o Intermountain West cities with lower educational attainment (fewer people with university degree) had an increased reliance on the real estate, construction and building industries. In turn, the recession hit these areas with increased severity.
o 80 percent of the larger metropolitan areas were losing jobs at a slower rate in Q3 2009 than Q2 2009; however, none had employments gains.
o The economic factors disproportionally affecting the Intermountain West could slow the national economic recovery; therefore, Congress and the Obama administration should devote increased attention to the region.

For more information on Brookings Mountain West at UNLV, visit: