The base of America’s robust economy is supported by its metropolitan centers. As communities emerge from the pandemic and face the possibility of a recession in the near future, city economies are well positioned to guide the nation through whatever comes next.
A new report from the United States Conference of Mayors, the 2022 Metro Economies Report, details the economic situation and outlook for metropolitan areas in the United States. Data shows that cities are the main engines of economic activity in the country and are responsible for the overwhelming share of growth in the US economy over the past year.
“The pandemic has tested America’s cities, but they have proven resilient and are now bringing the nation back to economic strength. It’s clear from this data that the health of the nation is tied to the health of metropolitan economies,” said Andrew Ginther, mayor of Columbus, Ohio and chair of the US Conference of Mayors’ Council on Metro Economies and the New American City. “Metro areas remain the engine of the U.S. economy, and this report validates the work that mayors have done locally and the investment made by our partners at the federal level. Real economic challenges remain, but the future lies ahead increasingly promising for American families and businesses.
The results were released at the organization’s 90th annual meeting, which was held June 3-6 in Reno, Nevada.
Last year, US cities accounted for 94% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth and just over 90% of job growth. Other notable findings from the report include documentation of a slight increase in the contribution to the economy of southern metropolitan centers for the eighth consecutive year, adding 5.9 million jobs in 2021.
While experts predict a potential slowdown later this year, the economy has just about recovered from its all-time low. Rebounding from the steepest economic decline on record in 2020, the country rebounded with its biggest increase on record in 2021.
“Consumer spending surged, boosted by federal stimulus and large wealth gains in the stock market and in housing,” the report said. “This year, 2022, has seen the return of full employment and rising wages with very tight labor markets across the country.”
By April, the labor market had recovered 20.8 million of the 22 million jobs lost at the start of the pandemic. (Public employment is still down nearly a million jobs.) Currently, the nation’s unemployment rate sits at around 3.6%, approaching a 50-year low of 3. 5% at the start of 2020.
In a visual representation of the strength of the nation’s economy, the report compares the economic output of US metropolitan centers with the nations – 37 US metropolitan centers ranked among the world’s largest economies.
“New York would rank ninth, Los Angeles 18e and Chicago 24e“, says the report. And closer to home, “the combined economic output of the ten best performing US metros exceeded the combined economies of 37 US states in 2021.”
For a list of the top 10 performing metropolitan economies last year, click on the attached gallery.