Which U.S. Cities Are Leading the Recovery?

June 18, 2014

While the U.S. economy overall has struggled to overcome the Great Recession, some cities have bounced back, according to a new publication from the Manhattan Institute by Tom Gray and Robert Scardamalia.

Gray and Scardamalia analyzed 100 of the nation's largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), which together comprise two-thirds of the American population. The majority of economic activity in the U.S. takes place in cities, and the numbers are revealing:

  • According to a 2012 report, America's MSAs hold 83.7 percent of the U.S. population and account for 85.8 percent of its jobs and 89.9 percent of wage and salary income.
  • Of the 100 largest economies in the entire world, 37 are American MSAs.
  • The four largest MSAs in Texas hold just 5 percent of the U.S. population yet have generated 10 percent of the nation's new jobs in the last four years.
  • San Jose and San Francisco have less than 17 percent of California's population but are together responsible for 27 percent of California's job growth.

Which cities have performed particularly well?

  • Of the 100 largest MSAs, the top economic performers from 2009 to 2012 were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California; Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tennessee; Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan; Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas; and Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan.
  • California has benefited from Silicon Valley, with Apple and Google's revenues up dramatically.
  • Tennessee's cities have not fared well after the recession, with the exception of Nashville. The city is an important player within the health care industry and the home to a number of large companies. And as the center of country music, Nashville profits from both tourism and the entertainment industry.
  • Leaders of the furniture industry are based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the city has done well thanks to an increasingly friendly business climate in the state.
  • As the center of the oil and gas industry, Houston, Texas, has seen impressive growth in oil and gas production. Its largest share of new jobs has come from professional and business services, many of which support the oil and gas industry.
  • Detroit remains in bankruptcy. However, the surrounding suburbs have actually seen robust growth, and those suburbs comprise the majority of the Detroit MSA. Durable-goods manufacturing is up 30.4 percent, with the MSA seeing 36,800 new manufacturing jobs and 43,600 new "professional and business services" jobs.

Source: Tom Gray and Robert Scardamalia, "America's Top Metros: Who's Leading the Recovery, and Why," Manhattan Institute, June 2014. 

 

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