The national job market continued to falter in large metro areas for the latter part of 2009 and into 2010, according to "U.S. Metro Economies: Pace of Economic Recovery: GMP and Jobs," released in January by the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). The U.S. unemployment rate will peak in the first quarter of 2010, averaging 10.2 percent between January-March, up from 4.9 percent just two years earlier, according to the USCM report.

Metro areas in the West, Southeast and Upper Midwest saw the highest unemployment rates in the country, due partly to a weak real estate market and failing manufacturing sector. Cities in the Plains and Mountain regions were more insulated from the housing bubble and the worst of the recession, which has suppressed the upward movement of unemployment, according to the report.

Also, the USCM report points out that the double-digit unemployment in many of the nation's major metro areas is expected to recover at a "lethargic rate" even after the national job market turns around. Despite expected employment growth in many metro area labor markets during the first half of 2010, there will be little change to the unemployment rate in the near-term. The initial growth in payrolls will not be fast enough to make a significant dent in the unemployment rate because of new job seekers entering the labor force once jobs start to become available, the report says. Therefore, while the unemployment rate will improve modestly, it will remain high in many metro areas over the next four years.

Download "U.S. Metro Economies: Pace of Economic Recovery: GMP and Jobs."

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