N.O. ranks sixth in economic recovery report

New Orleans was ranked sixth in a Brookings Institute report released Wednesday that measures how U.S. metro areas are recovering from the recession. That same report put Baton Rouge near the middle, coming in 56th out of the 100 largest cities.

The Brookings Metro Monitor report for the second quarter of 2013, which measures factors such as unemployment, home prices and output, was gauged against a city’s lowest economic point.

For the second quarter in a row, San Jose, Calif., topped the list.

Unlike most other U.S. metros, which bottomed out during the recession in 2009, the low point for the New Orleans economy came after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The massive hurricane recovery and rebuilding efforts provided a boost to the city during the national recession.

The Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings said in a statement that positive economic numbers are continuing to be posted nationally, but a full recovery is far off. One-third of the cities included in the Brookings report have seen employment surpass the pre-recession peak.

Baton Rouge topped its pre-recession employment peak, which it previously hit in the fourth quarter of 2007, during the fourth quarter of 2012. New Orleans is still well below its employment peak that was reached it the fourth quarter of 2004.

New Orleans had a 3 percent gain in the number of mining industry jobs, which includes the offshore oil and gas industry, from the first quarter to the second. A similar increase was seen in the number of local education jobs.

However, the information sector in New Orleans saw a 5.3 percent drop in employment during the quarter.

Baton Rouge had a 3.2 percent employment gain in the real estate, rental and leasing industry, and a 2.6 increase from the first to second quarter in education jobs. However government, finance and insurance fell 1.3 percent and professional and business service employment drpped 1.7 percent during the quarter.

Employment growth in the typical large metro was unchanged from the first quarter of 2013. Home prices continued to increase in most cities, while output growth slowed in 84 areas.

Metro areas that were among those hardest-hit by the recession saw the biggest improvement in the second quarter, with Bakersfield, Calif., Detroit and Phoenix all appearing in the top 10. Cities with a lot of industry based around natural gas, such as Houston, Dallas and Austin, Texas, also fared well.

The weakest-performing cities tended to be in the Northeast, where the recession was less pronounced: Scranton, Pa.; Hartford, Conn., Philadelphia; and Syracuse, N.Y.