(Reuters) - The 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. saw their rate of economic expansion slow down in the second quarter of 2012 from the first quarter, with cities in the Northeast hit hardest, according to a report on Tuesday.
Cities across the country have been struggling to regain their financial footing after the recession left them with depressed property tax revenue collections, cuts in state aid and increased demands for services.
Several cities and surrounding areas in upstate New York - including the state capital Albany, which came in 97th in the recovery ranking - had among the weakest recoveries for American cities, according to the report from the Brookings Institution.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's cash strapped capital, and the greater Philadelphia metro area were also near the very bottom of the list, ranking 99th and 95th, respectively.
Major metro areas in the Northeast usually have larger boom and bust growth cycles and tend to recover more slowly.
Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, and its surrounding area was at the bottom of the recovery ranking.
"In the race to recovery, metro areas are running at slow speeds with some tripping along the way," Alec Friedhoff, a research analyst with the Washington think tank, said in a statement.
The Brookings report was the latest to show uneven recovery.
The report measured four key economic indicators - employment, unemployment, output and home prices - for the 100 biggest metropolitan areas to find out how well they've recovered since their lowest points, which, for many, came in 2009.
Overall, cities saw "relatively fast growth" in the first quarter of 2012, but that recovery slowed during the second quarter, the report found.
The economies of the 100 biggest metro areas have grown 6.8 percent as of the second quarter of 2012 since reaching a cumulative low point in the third quarter of 2009.
However, the nation as a whole grew more - 7.6 percent - since reaching a trough in the first quarter of 2009.
Some areas of the nation - in particular, Texas and Oklahoma - didn't suffer as much during the recession, and their recovery was already strong because the natural gas boom has helped fuel their economies, Friedhoff said.
Also seeing healthy comebacks were some manufacturing centers and surrounding areas in 7th ranked Detroit and 8th ranked Grand Rapids, Michigan as well as Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio. High-tech hubs like Boston, Portland, San Jose and elsewhere have also continued on the path back to fiscal health.
And where house prices have begun stabilizing - in 6th ranked Boise and 3rd ranked Phoenix, as well as Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah - so too have recoveries, he said.
With cuts in state and local public employment, the government centers of Harrisburg and Albany have been slow to bounce back.
Harrisburg's economy grew just 1.5 percent since 2009, the report found.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; editing by Andrew Hay)