Since the end of the Great Recession, the majority of the United States has done a pretty good job of recovering. Unemployment is down, GDP growth is up, and real estate has made some nice gains in recent years. However, according to a study by WalletHub, some cities have done a much better job of recovering than others.
The study used employment-related factors like the change in the unemployment rate and median income, as well as other economic factors like the foreclosure rate, bankruptcy rate, average debt, crime rates, and business opportunities, to name just a few.
Here are the top five most-recovered cities, and a little bit about just how far each one has come.
The main reason Dallas ranks so highly is that it has the second most improved "economic environment" in the country. A lot of this is due to the fact that Dallas' real estate market has been on fire during the past few years.
In fact, according to Zillow, the median price for a home in Dallas bottomed at $132,000 in January 2012, and now stands at $245,000. This is a staggering 86% gain in less than three years. And since the 2008 peak, Dallas' foreclosure rate has dropped by about 64%.
Denver's high ranking is due to the top overall rating for "employment and earning opportunities." For one thing, Denver's unemployment rate is currently at 4.8%, well under the national average of 6.3%. And the improvement has been rapid. The rate peaked at 9.7% in 2010, and was at 7% just more than a year ago.
Denver has seen an influx of college-educated individuals into its workforce. From 2011 to 2012, for example, the percentage of Denver's 25-and-older population with at least a bachelor's degree rose from 38% to 40%.
3. Fayetteville, N.C.
Fayetteville has recovered pretty well all around, ranking highly in both employment and economic environment categories. Even more impressive is that Fayetteville ranked so highly despite a bad housing market, which Zillow rates a 0.8 out of 10 in terms of market health.
The metropolitan area has an unemployment rate that still sits at around 8%, but this is a nice improvement over the 10.9% rate of just two years ago. And the number of residents below the poverty line has decreased significantly since 2009, to 14.8% of the population. Fayetteville is a great example of a city headed in the right direction, but that still has a way to go.
2. Irving, Texas
Perhaps the most well-rounded economic recovery on the list is in Irving, which ranks third overall for employment opportunities, and ninth for economic environment. Irving's unemployment dropped from a peak of about 9% during the recession to an impressively low 4.8% rate today.
The median home sale price in Irving has risen by more than 50% since bottoming in 2010, and the city's foreclosure rate is currently about one-fourth of what it was at that point. In addition, only 10.9% of Irving's homeowners are "underwater" on their homes, and just 3.6% are delinquent on their mortgage, both of which are much better than the national averages of 17% and 6.9%, respectively.
1. Laredo, Texas
Although it ranks a "so-so" 33rd overall for employment opportunities, the excellent improvement in Laredo's economic environment makes it number one on the list. Home prices are up 27% since bottoming in 2011, and the city's 5.7% mortgage delinquency rate is well below the 6.9% national average.
During the past few decades, Laredo's population has increased at a very rapid pace, which is one of the biggest indicators of an improving economy. In fact, between 1990 and 2012, the population roughly doubled, with growth continuing since the recession.
The employment situation in Laredo has improved, as well, despite the influx of new residents needing jobs. In fact, Laredo's unemployment rate dropped from a peak of 9.2% in 2011 to 6% today, despite having about 8,000 new people added to its workforce.