Update: I just received permission from Howard Wial to post the entire text of his email response ...
There was a computer programming error in the calculation of the overall and recovery rankings. (All the individual indicators that go into those summary rankings were correct as originally reported.) Because of the error, which affected the rankings of a large number of metropolitan areas, Pittsburgh wasn't originally given sufficient credit for the relatively large decline in its unemployment rate during the recovery or the relatively small increase in the unemployment rate since the beginning of the recession. Pittsburgh's rankings, both overall and recovery, improved when the error was corrected.
End Update---------------------------------------------End Update
A commenter here alerted me to significant changes to the Brookings MetroMonitor report I blogged about yesterday. Pittsburgh's recovery received a boost, from bottom of the barrel to merely average. Upon a reread, I noticed a major shift in the tenor of the overall report. Chunks of narrative were removed or added. Things look a lot different today than they did yesterday.
I emailed Howard Wial about the revisions and he replied promptly, "There was a computer programming error in the calculation of the overall and recovery rankings." The recalculation boosted Pittsburgh in both rankings, not just recovery. In the new version, I'd quote the following:
Employment rebounded from its low point in 88 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas by the first quarter of 2011, but only 12 gained back more than half the jobs they lost between their employment peak and their post-recession employment low point, and only two made a complete jobs recovery. Only Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Hartford, Houston, Madison, McAllen, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Springfield, and Washington regained more than half of the jobs they had lost between their pre-recession high and their post-recession low, while only 18 additional large metropolitan areas regained as much as a quarter of the jobs they lost in the recession.
Regarding jobs, Pittsburgh is experiencing a relatively strong recovery. If I understand Wial's message correctly, then the metro is doing well despite a decline in government jobs since the post-recession employment low. That would make the Pittsburgh recovery even more exceptional.
Every regional economy has warts. Likewise, I can find something good to say about any metro. Pessimist or optimist, something dramatically different is going on in Pittsburgh.