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Not long ago, a shopping block in the tony New York suburb of New Rochelle was awash in stylish restaurants and small, attractive retail stores. These days, almost a third of more than a dozen storefronts sit dark and empty, apparent victims of the job losses and other concerns that continue to weigh on the broader economy.

Many U.S. cities, suburbs and rural areas continue to be awash in “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs on the commercial and residential buildings, and for some the trend appears to be worsening. While the economic downturn and current uneven recovery have driven vacancy rates higher in both residential and commercial sectors, the recovery cycle for each sector is likely to vary, due to the unique forces at work.

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