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New Report Analyzes Economic Health of World’s Top 200 Metros; Manufacturing Helped Drive Expansion

A new report by The Brookings Institution sheds light on the per capita GDP (income) and employment changes for 200 of the world's largest metro economies from 2010 to 2011. While these areas account for almost half of global output, they only make up just 14 percent of the world's population and employment.

Global MetroMonitor 2011 analyzed metros from seven world regions: Western Europe (60), North America (64), developed Asia-Pacific (24), developing Asia-Pacific (18), Latin America (12), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (11), and Middle East and Africa (6).

2011 marked the latest year in a volatile period for the global economy, stated the study, reflected in the distinct experiences of its leading metropolitan economies.

"A slowdown in the recovery did not alter the continued ascendance of emerging-market metro areas as hubs for production, consumption, and trade," noted the study's authors. "The relatively stronger recent growth of business and financial services and manufacturing capitals suggests that metropolitan areas most focused in high-value export industries may be better positioned to respond to the opportunities offered by worldwide recovery and future global urban growth."

Looking specifically at manufacturing, industries not only seemed to boost growth in metro areas specialized in that sector, but also drove economic expansion in 2010-2011 in a wider array of places. In fact, across 187 metro areas analyzed, manufacturing represented the largest share of output in 23 of them.

Some of the key findings from Global MetroMonitor 2011 were:

  • Ninety percent of the fastest-growing metro economies, among the 200 largest worldwide, were located outside North America and Western Europe. Only two were from North America (Houston, #19, and Dallas, #36) and two from Western Europe (Stuttgart, Germany, and Stockholm, Sweden). The #1 metro on the list? Shanghai, China. In contrast, 95 percent of the slowest-growing metro economies were in the United States, Western Europe, and earthquake-damaged Japan.

  • In nearly every global region, metro areas generated disproportionate shares of national increases in output and employment. Many U.S. metro areas significantly outperformed the national average on income growth, while several others significantly underperformed on employment growth.

  • Employment growth accelerated in about three-fourths of metro areas from the 2009 to 2010 period, but income growth slowed in two-thirds, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions.

  • Less than one-half of the 200 metro areas surpassed their pre-recession levels of employment and/or income by 2011. Most metro areas also posted slower employment and income growth rates in 2010-2011 than they did over the long-run, prerecession period from 1993 to 2007.

  • Metro areas specializing in commodities and business and financial services within their countries exhibited the strongest performance.


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