OK, 7 percent unemployment is only "good" compared with just about everywhere else in America. But it's good enough to put this area near the top of the job-market pack. The catch: Perched along beautiful coastal scenery, the metro area stretching from Norfolk to Newport News has an economy built heavily on the defense sector.
That's been a stabilizing force throughout the recession and its aftermath, as Navy bases and defense contractors work to help US forces deploy overseas. But looking forward, a pullback from Afghanistan and tighter federal budgets (including for the military) could put a squeeze on this region's job market.