The economies of U.S. metropolitan areas turned around last year, with metro gross domestic products (GDPs) increasing a combined 2.5 percent after declining 2.5 percent in 2009, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. With this 2010 improvement, some metro areas—in particular, several on the East Coast—are beginning to distance themselves from the pack in their economic recovery from the recession.

In the three years from 2007 through 2010, just 18 percent of the nation’s 366 metropolitan areas experienced at least 10 percent economic growth, as measured by metropolitan GDP in current dollars, according to analysis done for Urban Land onine magazine. Barely a handful of metro economies grew by at least 20 percent during that time, and they’ve all been smaller locales, such as Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Manhattan, Kansas.

In just 10 percent of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, total economic growth exceeded 10 percent since 2007. These places are as follows: San Jose, California; Austin, Texas; Hartford, Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; and Raleigh, North Carolina. In most cases, 2010 economic activity contributed half or more of the total three-year economic growth in these metro areas. Interestingly, the top ten metros for economic growth since the recession are concentrated mostly in East Coast states, which are benefiting from a rebound in financial services, and in Texas, where overall job growth has remained high in recent years.

For ULI members, these latest economic figures show that the Sunbelt region of the South and West is generally recovering more slowly than the East Coast and the Midwest. For real estate professionals, metropolitan areas with better economies are more likely to have increasing demand and interest in real estate activities, from new office space for expanding companies to new-home building or retail development for local pockets experiencing job growth.

Below are the top ten metro areas for economic growth since the recession:

Rank

Top 50 Metropolitan Area

Over 1 Million Population

2010 Gross Domestic Product (in Billions)

2007–2010 Change

(in Current $)

1

San Jose, CA

$168.52

13.2%

2

Austin, TX

$86.03

12.1%

3

Hartford, CT

$87.96

11.6%

4

Washington, D.C.

$425.17

10.7%

5

Raleigh, NC

$52.28

10.5%

6

Buffalo, NY

$45.15

8.3%

7

Baltimore, MD

$144.79

8.0%

8

Boston, MA

$313.69

7.8%

9

San Antonio, TX

$82.04

7.7%

10

Indianapolis, IN

$105.16

7.6%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.