Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Brookings Institution Releases New Metro Area Rankings

The Brookings Institution released a new study and paper on their proposed new federal partnership for America’s metro areas. Included is a measure of how the top 100 metro areas in America stack up across a range of measures, lined up with the three pillars of growth that they identify as necessary for a successful future: productivity, inclusiveness, and sustainability. Feel free to read this for yourself. Included along with the report are summary pages on all 100 metro areas.

I found the data very interesting, so thought I’d reproduce the rankings from the productivity pillar here.

First is GDP per job. Now this is an interesting measure. I’m not sure why they selected GDP per job instead of something like GDP per capita. The per job measure would appear to have some weaknesses. For example, a very high unemployment rate might not count against you. Most international comparisons use GDP per capita. I’m sure they had their reasons. And it is still an interesting measure. And GDP per capita is easy to calculate for yourself at home if you want to.

The US average GDP per job is $87, 771. The top 100 metro GDP per job average is $96,655. Perhaps this is also a case where the average misleads, since only 19 of the top 100 metros are above average. The median for the top 100 is $82,129.

Metro GDP Per Job Top 100 Rank
Chicago $99,313 17
Des Moines $97,256 19
Indianapolis $95,435 20
Detroit $94,116 22
Minneapolis $92,336 25
Cleveland $89,298 31
Kansas City $88,018 36
Columbus $85,851 45
Cincinnati $84,936 46
Milwaukee $83,283 48
St. Louis $81,842 51
Louisville $80,052 58

The next measure is growth in GDP per job, a logical follow-on measure to look at. The time period is 2001-2005, which may not be the greatest because of the dot com recession. You can get good productivity growth in recessions that is not sustainable, as companies cut jobs and make everyone work harder. But job growth did recover by the end of that period. The US average was 9.4% and the top 100 metro average was 9.5%.

Metro GDP Per Job Growth (01-05) Top 100 Rank
Des Moines 16.3% 4
Cleveland 11.6% 26
Kansas City 9.6% 40
Minneapolis 9.0% 48
Indianapolis 8.7% 51
St. Louis 8.5% 54
Columbus 8.1% 59
Chicago 7.8% 67
Cincinnati 7.7% 69
Milwaukee 7.4% 74
Detroit 7.4% 75
Louisville 6.5% 82

These measures are interesting to me, and I haven’t fully thought through what they might imply. I notice that the major Midwest metros score well on GDP per job, but not so well on growth. If a better rank is better in this chart, then the numbers paint a different picture than the conventional wisdom view in some cases. For example, we’d say Cleveland is a struggling town, but they rank among the best in the Midwest on these measures. What is behind this? It would be interesting to look. I threw Des Moines in there because they score so well, and this high score reminded me of the recent NYT article I cited about a worker shortage there.

The third productivity measure is percentage of adults 25 or over with a bachelor’s degree. The US average is 27.0% and the top 100 metro average is 30.6%. Again, only a third of metros are above that average, so I’ll give the top 100 median of 28.4%

Metro Bachelor’s Degree % Top 100 Rank
Minneapolis 36.3% 11
Chicago 31.6% 26
Columbus 31.3% 28
Kansas City 31.2% 30
Des Moines 31.2% 31
Indianapolis 29.5% 41
Milwaukee 29.4% 43
St. Louis 28.6% 48
Cincinnati 27.0% 64
Detroit 26.3% 68
Cleveland 25.7% 74
Louisville 23.2% 88

The overlap here between the conventional wisdom view and the rankings are pretty darn close. Cleveland is near the bottom in this list where conventional wisdom ranking would expect it to be. Louisville is the outlier here. Its economic performance is better than its educational attainment would suggest.

There’s much more data on the Brookings site, so check it out at your leisure.

Topics: Economic Development, Talent Attraction

8 Responses to “Brookings Institution Releases New Metro Area Rankings”

  1. thundermutt says:

    Gee, these stats show the ‘ville in a bad light. Ready for the storm of anon posts?


  2. The Urbanophile says:

    Alright, thunder. As my grandfather used to say, “Don’t start nuthin’, won’t be nuthin'”

  3. David says:

    Yup, the stats suggest the Ville is under-educated vs its peers. Will not dispute the stats. It is a challenge the Ville needs to continue to address.

    Historically, education attainment is reflective of the state as well. Ky has a poor history in that regards as compared to IN and OH (and most other states). In that regards, the Ville is more like its ‘southern’ sisters.

    While not denying that education is very important, would also suggest there are many successful folks in the Ville (and elsewhere) who have not ‘gradiated from college’

  4. The Urbanophile says:

    Boosting the number of people with degrees and improving educational attainment generally is a big part of the Greater Louisville Project’s agenda.

    I think Louisville has managed to do very well considering this educational levels it has.

    Incidentally, Nashville is 28.3%, Pittsburgh is 27.1%, Dayton is 23.9%, Memphis is 23.7%, and Birmingham is 25.7%, to list some other cities that aren’t setting the world on fire in the education category.

  5. Anonymous says:


    Please correct the GDP Per Job Growth figure of ” 65.% ” for Louisville lest we get another round of “HATING ON THE ‘VILLE” posts decrying your overlooking such a phenomenal growth rate.

    thank you,

    a reader

  6. Anonymous says:

    What does that mean… the ‘ville? Does that refer to Knoxville, Nashville, Louisville, Jacksonville there are lots of ‘villes out there.

    I think something they should come up something more unique.

    Anyway, I think you are a brave person to show facts to people in the ‘ville. They don’t respond very well to things like that.

  7. Da ville says:

    Anon 2:11

    Have you ever watched NCAA basketball or football? The ‘Ville moniker is used by the announcers (who are not from the ‘Ville) in addition to folks from the ‘Ville.

    As far as other ‘Ville’s’…Nashville is NashVegas; Knoxville is K-Town or RockyTop and Jacksonville is know as JAX among other things.

    Maybe you are not a sports fan? Maybe you like American Idol…if so, travel to the ‘Ville in July and Sep to audition. It is the closest audition stop for anyone in the region. Churchill Downs is the venue for Paula, Randy & Simon.

  8. dillyberto says:

    As all things are in flux and somehow related, I would be interested to know the sports related information at the time of the study.

    Indy wins the Super Bowl. Cardincals in the World Series. How does this influence the productivity?

    Of course, I am influenced to ponder this by U2’s World Cup commercial about no productivity during the Cup.

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