Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
*Note: "New York City" refers to the city's five boroughs, not the greater metropolitan area.
Of course, the unemployment rate's trajectory isn't everything. Freedman points out that many cities in California, Nevada and Arizona—regardless of the directions in which their jobless rates are moving—still have double-digit unemployment in part due to the housing crisis.
It's also important to note that, like the nation as a whole, it's hard to know what a full recovery will look like in any given city.
Two extreme examples can be found in Arizona and North Dakota. Since January 2002, Yuma, Arizona's lowest annual jobless rate was 13.8 percent. The city had only six months during that period in which unemployment was below 10 percent. Meanwhile, the jobless rate in Grand Forks, N.D. is on the low end of the spectrum. Since January 2002, the monthly jobless rate there has never climbed above 5.6 percent, and the annual jobless rate hit a high of 4.7 percent in 2009.
A mix of factors, like a city's unique industries and demographics, can mean that a city is predisposed toward a higher or lower unemployment rate.
For example, "younger people have weaker attachments to the labor force and a lot more job mobility and, as a result, pass in and out of employment more frequently," points out Freedman. "We shouldn't expect all metro areas to converge to the same unemployment rate."