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Report Finds Most Metro Economies Grew Even in Tough Economic Year

WASHINGTON, DC - The nation's metropolitan areas were responsible for "driving the economic performance of the nation as a whole last year," accounting for 98% of job growth and 86% of national economic growth, according to a new report prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors by DRI/WEFA.

The report contains data on each of the nation's 319 metro areas, including 2001 gross metropolitan product, as well as growth and employment figures. Economic forecasts are also provided for the 20 largest U.S. metro areas.

Metro economies function as engines of economic growth, job and income creation, and new industry for their region and for the nation as whole. They hold the key to the future of the U.S. economy, according to the report, which finds:

  • In the aggregate, metro areas outperformed non-metro areas economically in 2001.
  • Of the country's 319 metro areas, 269 grew in inflation-adjusted output in 2001, with 135 growing faster than the national average.
  • Over the past decade, metro economy output increased from $5 trillion to $8.9 trillion, an average annual increase of 6%, ahead of the national average. Metro areas' share of U.S. economic output increased from 84.6% in 1991 to 85.2% last year and is predicted to reach 86.7% in 25 years.
  • Metro areas accounted for 84% of all U.S. jobs and 98% of job growth in 2001. Metro-area workers earn an average of $40,600 in wages and benefits versus $28,200 for those in non-metro areas.
"This report demonstrates clearly the vital role of America's cities in our national economy," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "Metropolitan areas are not just our population centers. They are also our centers for jobs and economic activity. Therefore, as our cities go, so goes our nation."

The report found that 2001 productivity gains helped produce real economic growth of 2.1% in New York City, 1.9% in Los Angeles-Long Beach, and 1.8% in Chicago.

The report offered good news about New York City's economy, saying it weathered the recession better than many other cities, despite the impact of September 11. The report predicted "a difficult 2002" for New York, the nation's largest metro economy, "followed by a robust recovery in the following years, bolstered by growth in service employment."

"New York City demonstrates the strength and tenacity of our nation's cities,' said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Our cities are the economic engines of our country and their growth and success helps all Americans."

The report underscores the enormous size of the nation's metro economies:

  • Sixteen metro areas account for more than half of the output in the state in which they are located.
  • The gross product of the 10 largest U.S. metro areas exceeds the combined output of 31 states.
  • U.S. metro areas would be 48 of the 100 largest economies in the world if they were nations. In 2001, New York City overtook South Korea to become the world's 13th largest economy. Los-Angeles-Long Beach moved up to 15th, overtaking both the Netherlands and Australia.

"Even in a recession year, U.S. metro economies led the way in softening the impact of the downturn and positioning the nation for long-term economic growth," said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Chair of the Council for Investment in the New American City, a partnership of the Conference of Mayors and the private and non-profit sectors that encourages reinvestment in cities to create jobs, spur economic growth, and increase U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.

The complete report is available online at


The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. The primary roles of the Conference of Mayors are to promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information. More information is available at

Press contact: Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766