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Seven cities that surprised in recession

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2. Riverside/San Bernardino, Calif.: standout "GMP." Just as the output of a nation gets measured by gross domestic product (GDP), there's also something called gross metropolitan product (GMP) for metro areas. Despite having a deep mortgage bust, the Riverside and San Bernardino metro area ranks as No. 12 in the nation for its GMP performance during the recession (down only 1.8 percent from its peak). The lesson here is that there's more to an economic activity than just the housing market. Another subtext: California's economy appears to be moving faster toward recovery than Florida.

3. Rochester, N.Y.: overall Top 20. Maybe the obituaries for Eastman Kodak – and upstate New York – were premature. The city made the list of 20 best performers during the recession. (The ratings are based on total job losses, change in the jobless rate, GMP, and home prices.) The Top 20 list was dominated by cities in Texas and the Great Plains, and Rochester made the list thanks to its specialization in higher education and healthcare.

4. Pittsburgh: overall Top 20. Pittsburgh, which symbolized blue-collar economic anxiety in the early 1980s, also ranks among the areas least affected by the recession. It's not that steel plants are escaping the impact of the automotive slump. But like Rochester, Pittsburgh has lots of higher education and healthcare activity, and a steady housing market.


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