Research from the Brookings Institute on the economic conditions in the country’s 100 largest metro areas released this month indicates that Virginia may already be recovering from the nation’s economic downturn.

Brookings ranked the 100 metros on overall economic health. Washington DC ranked 14th, Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News ranked 16th, and Richmond ranked 46th.

In the report, all three Virginia-area metros are cited as showing signs of economic recovery: Richmond, Washington DC, and Virginia Beach each showed growth in employment and output in the first quarter of 2009.

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Washington DC, and Richmond were ranked three, four and five respectively for percent change in Gross Metropolitan Product from Q4 2008 to Q1 2009.

One significant blemish for Virginia: The DC area is still showing 6.49 REOs per 1000 mortgageable properties, making it the 11th worst performer in that category.

A strong government and/or military employment presence in all three of Virginia’s major metro areas bodes well for economic recovery the Commonwealth, as these employment sectors tend to be insulated from large employment declines.

Standing in stark contrast to the gloomy Case-Schiller index, the Brookings Institute report shows that 38 of the top 100 metro areas saw no decline in home prices over the past 12 months.