Phoenix Metro Economy Among Most Resilient Nationwide Amid Pandemic

By Amy Edelen

The Valley was one of the most resilient areas nationwide during the pandemic, a new report by the Brookings Institution shows.

Brookings on Feb. 28 released its Metro Monitor 2023, a report that offers a comprehensive look of how the pandemic impacted economies of 192 metro areas nationwide with populations greater than 250,000.

The Phoenix metro area, deemed by the report’s authors as resilient, ranked No. 4 nationwide out of 192 U.S. metros, performing well for inclusive growth pre-pandemic and continued economic resiliency during the public health crisis.

The report examined economic performance indicators across five categories: growth, prosperity, overall inclusion, racial inclusion, and geographic inclusion. From there, the report’s authors determined whether metro areas were resilient, emergent, tested or stagnant.

Researchers also took into account a metro area’s gross domestic product, job growth, average wages, employment rate, standard of living and ratio of income to poverty, among other factors.

The Phoenix metro area was consistent across the board in those key indicators, performing especially well in GDP, employment, standard of living and GDP per capita, which is a metric that determines an area’s economic output per resident, said Joseph Parilla, one of the report’s authors and director of applied research at Brookings Metro.

“Phoenix just kind of kept growing compared to other places,” Parilla said.

Finishing above Phoenix in the top three spots as resilient metros were: Ogden-Clearfield, Utah; Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida and Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, Florida.

Maricopa County GDP increased 7.6% between 2019-2021. The Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metro area had GDP of $261.7 billion in 2021, compared with $242.9 billion in 2019, according to a report released in December by U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Arizona’s GDP was $347.7 billion in 2021, compared with $325.4 billion in 2019, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis report.

Phoenix’s challenge ahead: maintaining upward mobility for residents

During the pandemic, large metro areas with populations greater than 1 million underwent a greater relative loss in overall jobs – including positions at young firms – compared to cities with fewer residents, according to the Brookings report.

The report’s authors indicated 31% of metro areas in the southern U.S. were deemed economically resilient during the pandemic.

“The South, in particular, had a resilient performance and that was illustrated by Florida, but you could also put Arizona in that category as well,” Parilla said.

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