A major economic report—and my small role in its release

Did you know that the New York metro area’s economic output is larger than the GDP of all but 13 nations—bigger than countries such as Spain, South Korea, and Mexico, Turkey, and The Netherlands—and will top a whopping $1.5 trillion by 2015? (That’s trillion, with a t!) Or that over one-third of the world’s 100 largest economies would be U.S. metro areas, if metro areas were nations? Or that 90% of U.S. GDP is produced in the nation’s urban regions?

In short, U.S. metro areas are economic powerhouses—the engines that power the largest economy on earth.

America’s urban areas are the engines that power the most prosperous economy on earth.

That’s the message of the Metro Economies Reports series, produced by IHS Global Insight for the Council on Metro Economies and the New American City at The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). The underlying message is that if we are going to expand economic opportunity at home and remain competitive in the global economy abroad, as a nation we must invest in our urban areas. It is a simple message that federal and state officials find surprisingly hard to grasp—but that mayors clearly understand and that USCM works hard to promote.

Columbus, Ohio, mayor Michael Coleman, chair of the Council on Metro Economies and the New American City at USCM, releases the latest Metro Economies Report at the opening press conference of USCM’s annual meeting in Dallas, 20 June 2014. (Photo courtesy USCM via Flickr)

The Metro Economies Reports are issued two or three times a year. The latest one was released just last Friday, 20 June 2014, at USCM’s annual meeting in Dallas. The report’s findings on the performance and resilience of our metro areas were, as usual, impressive:

  • Among the 100 largest metro areas, the largest increases in gross metropolitan product, or GMP, were in Austin (4.6%), San Jose and Nashville (4.2%), San Francisco (4.1%), New Orleans (3.9%), and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and my hometown, Charlotte (3.8%).
  • In 2014, 344 metro areas—a full 95%—will see real GMP growth. Together, America’s metro areas will contribute 87% of the nation’s payroll, 88% of total income, 97% of population growth, and 91% of real GDP growth to the nation’s economy.
  • The combined economic output of just the 10 largest metro areas—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Washington, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta—exceeds the combined output of an astounding 37 states.

The list goes on.

And for the past several years I’ve been able to play a small role in releasing these major economic reports, which frequently get picked up by national and local media alike. See, these are hefty reports; this latest one runs to 132 pages alone. So, to break down the data and make it more digestible for mayors, the media, and the public, I’ve worked with the Council on Metro Economies and the New American City to produce companion charts that convey the most salient information in easy-to-understand graphs. Here’s the latest:

For this latest set of charts, I proposed a few changes both to pique mayors’ and others’ interest and to help save on printing costs and waste. The front page of this report contains a new “dashboard”, where macro data are gathered in a series of concise graphs, allowing readers to quickly understand the contributions of metro areas to the nation’s economy. Flip it over to the back page (the fourth page in this online version) and there’s a list of the top 100 metro economies. Inside, rankings of metro areas with nations and with U.S. states are now found side by side. It’s all a matter of taking something with an established legacy and making it better and more relevant.

To learn more about my contributions to the Metro Economies Reports series over the years and to see past editions of these charts, check out my portfolio.


Photo
Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, president of The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), holds a copy of the June 2014 Metro Economies Report while speaking at the opening press conference of USCM’s annual meeting in Dallas, 20 June 2014.
courtesy USCM via Flickr

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