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Philly’s Economic Growth Trails Most Major Metros

By Nora Tooher

The Philadelphia area apparently is a laggard, not a leader, in the nation's economic recovery.

In terms of GDP per capita, the Philadelphia metro area ranks only 40th out of the nation's 52 largest metros on New Geography's list of U.S. cities that are benefiting most from the economic recovery.

From 2010 to 2013, per capita GDP in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area increased only 1.1 percent, failing to match the nation's overall meager GDP per capita growth rate of 3.8 percent during that time period.

Other surprising economic stragglers included New York, ranked 33rd; Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, ranked 26th; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, ranked 38th and the Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria metro which was ranked 51st, ahead of only last-place New Orleans.

Housing costs are also higher in the Big Easy, according to Zillow. The median price of homes currently listed in New Orleans is $174,000, compared to Philly's $149,750.

Other economic slowpokes include Orlando, Fla., 50th; Hartford, Conn., 49th; Jacksonville, Fla., 48th; Las Vegas, 47th; Raleigh, N.C., 46th; Virginia Beach, Va., 45th; Atlanta, 44th; Rochester, New York, 43rd; Richmond, Va., 42 and Memphis, Tenn., 41st.

Buoyed by the energy boom, the Houston metro led the list of GDP per capita gainers from 2010 to 2013, followed by San Jose, Calif., second; Portland, Ore., third; Columbus, Ohio, fourth; Grand Rapids, Mich., fifth; Charlotte, N.C., sixth; Oklahoma City, seventh; Salt Lake City, eighth; Nashville, Tenn., ninth and Detroit, 10th.

The rankings were based on the Bureau of Economic Analysis's latest numbers. In general, New Geography found, most of the areas showing strong economic growth are cashing in on either the tech boom, like San Jose, or the energy boom, like the Dallas metro area, including Fort Worth, ranked 13th.

There have also been some solid gains in Rust Belt metros like Cleveland, ranked 15th, thanks to a combination of energy development and a burgeoning auto industry.

Even in the nation's boomtowns, however, many of the nation's poor are being left behind. From 2010 to 2013, poverty declined in just seven of the nation's 52 largest metro areas: Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; Nashville; Columbus; Grand Rapids; Austin, Texas and San Antonio, according to New Geography.