The unemployment rate in America hasn't budged of late, but the flat jobless rate may not tell the whole story.
More than a few smaller, dynamic cities have already exceeded economic output levels seen before the recession.
According to a recent Brookings Institution report that examines change in Gross Metropolitan Product -- the value of the goods and services produced in a metropolitan area -- in the 100 largest metropolitan areas across several years, 28 of the areas regained their pre-recession output levels in the fourth quarter.
Twenty-eight metropolitan areas posted new highs in output in the fourth quarter of 2009, exceeding their pre-recession peak output levels. These included Washington, DC, which never lost output during the last five years. Ten additional metropolitan areas registered output levels less than 1 percent below their pre-recession peaks, suggesting that several additional metro areas may move into expansionary territory if they experience similar economic growth going forward.
Of course, these output levels haven't necessarily translated into corresponding job growth, but these are undoubtedly some good signs. Check out the ten metro areas that have shown the best recovery in output: