Metro Recovery in a Global EconomyApr 20th, 2012 | By Mike Sitkowski
IHS Global Insight
U.S. Conference of Mayors. 2012.
As unemployment numbers and GDP growth provide reason for optimism in the United States, a recent report [pdf] suggests that cities are driving the economic resurgence.
At the January meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, IHS Global Insight released a report analyzing U.S. job growth and export levels in 2011. The forecasting firm shows that the nation’s 363 largest metropolitan areas are driving positive trends in both categories:
The US economy is recovering slowly, but surely, from the Great Recession. This growth is being led by metro areas, once again the engines of US economic growth. In 2011, metros led US growth, gaining 2.2% to boost national growth to 1.8%. Metros now contribute 90.4% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Metros now account for 85.6% of jobs in the nation.
The report focuses on job growth and export levels as indicators of metropolitan recovery from the recession. At the end of 2011, only 26 of the nation’s 363 metropolitan areas had completely recovered jobs lost during the recession. The report projects that 26 more metro economies will reach pre-recession job levels by the end of 2012, while for nearly 80 metro economies complete recovery is more than five years away. The southeast and southwest, hit hardest by the housing bubble, are home to many of the metropolitan areas that are expected to take the longest to recover.
Despite this slow recovery, all but three metropolitan areas will experience positive job growth in 2012 when the nation will have recovered 48 percent of jobs lost in the recession.
The report points to increasing demand for U.S. exports to explain the positive metropolitan economic trends, noting that U.S. metros produce 88 percent of the nation’s exports. In 2011, export values grew by 13.5 percent, increasing metropolitan production levels and helping to reduce unemployment.
As the U.S. economy continues to emerge from the recession, the development of metropolitan economies is “essential for the nation to prosper.” Emerging global economies and a competitive dollar inspire projections of continuing growth in demand for U.S. exports over the next decade. Ensuring that U.S. cities are well-positioned to capitalize on increasing export demand will spur economic productivity and boost employment levels nationwide.
Though many American cities still face hard times, increasing metropolitan economic output has put the U.S. on the path to recovery, boding well for the future of American cities and the American economy. While emerging economies continue to grow and prosper throughout the world, it appears that American cities may be able to thrive right alongside them.