NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Metropolitan Area Competitiveness

December 13, 2002

Despite high housing costs, traffic congestion and a generally high cost of living, the metropolitan areas of Seattle, San Francisco and Boston are more competitive in attracting workers and business capital than any others in the United States, according to a study from the Beacon Hill Institute.

Researchers combined variables measuring human resources, technology, openness to commerce, crime prevention, government and fiscal policy, infrastructure and environmental policy to develop a "competitiveness index" rating each of the country's 50 largest metro areas on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most competitive. Among their findings:

  • Seattle ranks first with a score of 7.48, followed by San Francisco (7.44) and Boston (7.00).
  • The scores of the nation's two largest cities -- New York (4.29) and Los Angeles (3.92) were below average.
  • At the bottom, Buffalo scored 3.62 and New Orleans scored 2.70.

The most competitive areas have policies and conditions that will ensure and sustain a high level of per capita income and its continued growth, say researchers.

Every metro area in the nation has room for improvement. For example, the top three regions could improve their government and fiscal policies. At the bottom of the list, New Orleans needs better law enforcement and Buffalo needs to make itself more open to commerce.

Source: Jonathan Haughton and Corina Murg, "Metro Area and State Competitiveness Report 2002," Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, 8 Ashburton Place, Boston, Mass. 02108, (617) 573-8750.

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