With politicians and business leaders eager to get the U.S. economy back in motion, the path back to normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic is paramount for many major cities. A recent research report provided some insight on what cities have the easiest and toughest roads to recovery.

Based on the cities included in the list of 100 biggest metropolitan areas in the U.S., the report was produced by Moody’s Analytics and lists the top 10 cities for each metric. The 10 best poised for recover were, in alphabetical order: Boise; Denver; Durham, North Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; Provo, Utah; Raleigh, North Carolina; Salt Lake City; San Jose; Tuscon; and Washington, D.C.

The ones poised to have the most difficulty were, also alphabetically: Detroit; Honolulu; Los Angeles; McAllen, Texas; Miami, New Haven; New York City; Philadelphia; Stockton, California; and Tampa.

Examining the makeup of these lists, several trends emerge in each list. Amongst the cities likely to struggle are some of the country’s largest cities, like New York, L.A., Miami, and Detroit, which became hotspots for the virus. The northeast region, in general, is also well-represented due to the outsized impact on that area, accounting for New Haven and Philadelphia.

Also notable is Stockton, which has a history of economic hardship. This dates back to poor financial management in the 1990s and culminated in 2012 with the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Amongst the cities likely to bounce back well, small-to-mid-sized metro areas are well-represented. The majority are also college towns – including Durham, Raleigh, Provo, Boise, and Madison – which will likely have a reliable influx of residents once universities reopen.

This list also trends towards the west, away from the harder hit northeast and east coast regions. Out of the 10 listed, seven are situated west of Chicago.

A "New York Tough" sign at Rockefeller Center Ice Rink in Manhattan, as the city contends with the deadly coronavirus pandemic A "New York Tough" sign at Rockefeller Center Ice Rink in Manhattan, as the city contends with the deadly coronavirus pandemic Photo: AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY