It will take the Philadelphia region until the fourth quarter of 2013 - more than 21/2 years from now - to return to prerecession employment levels, according to a report presented Monday to the nation's mayors at a conference in Baltimore.

That puts the region ahead of the country, which as a whole will not regain its prerecession vigor until 2014, the report projected.

This region "has come out of the recession pretty well," said Jim Diffley, senior director and chief regional economist for IHS Global Insight, which conducted the research for the report.

"Because of its more moderate housing cycle and its diversification away from manufacturing, it's on track for a full recovery," said Diffley, who is based in the firm's Eddystone office.

The local unemployment rate will fall to 6.7 percent by the end of 2013, after hitting 8.1 percent by this year's end and 7.5 percent by the end of 2012, the report projected.

Since the last employment peak in the first quarter of 2008, the Philadelphia area will have lost 135,400 jobs, or 4.8 percent, the report said. Diffley said the region's educational and medical institutions stabilized employment.

Nationally, the scenario is different.

"Pressures from rising commodity costs, supply-chain disruptions from Japan's natural disaster, and extreme weather domestically have combined to slow the economy's momentum, and downside risks have become more troubling," the report said.

Its findings were presented to the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, of which Mayor Nutter is a vice president.

The report makes the point that a number of U.S. metropolitan areas have stronger economies than many nations of the world. The Philadelphia metropolitan area is the world's 36th-largest economy, ahead of Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, and Denmark.

With a 2010 gross domestic product of $347.7 billion, the Philadelphia metro area ranks seventh nationwide, behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Houston, and Dallas.

When it comes to growth, however, the region - which includes parts of South Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland - falls well below other cities. Its gross domestic product grew 4.1 percent over the decade, putting Philadelphia 179th in growing the economy.

Philadelphia and the four surrounding Pennsylvania counties account for 41.6 percent of Pennsylvania's GDP, just more than double what Pittsburgh provides. The South Jersey portion of the metropolitan area accounts for 11.7 percent of New Jersey's gross domestic product.

Despite its forecast of a long and slow recovery, the report remains cautiously optimistic regarding the overall national economy, saying, "We continue to believe that the current soft patch is not a precursor of a double dip."