Press Release

May 23, 2000

Tony Iallonardo/USCM, (202) 293-7330
Jubi Headley/USCM (202) 744-9337 (cell)
Liz Galewski/NACo (202) 393-6226.

U.S. Metro Economies Drive Robust Economy
New Report Shows Many Metro Areas Outpace States, Even Nations, in Economic Output

Chicago, IL -- The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) release a report today in Chicago that finds that metropolitan areas are the focal points of America's current and future economic prosperity. Compiled by Standard & Poor's DRI, the report documents the Gross Metropolitan Product* (GMP) of the nation's 319 largest metro areas, and shows improved economic vitality for the nation's metro regions.

In a statement made before the release of the report, Conference of Mayors President and Denver Mayor Wellington Webb said, "the new data we are releasing makes clear that metropolitan economies are the engines of America's growth and driving the current economic boom. Metro regions are growing, producing more, and creating unprecedented levels of employment."

According to the report:

  • U. S. metro areas account for 85% of the nation's gross domestic product,

  • Metro areas are now generating 84% of the nation's employment and 88% percent of the nation's labor income,

  • Metro economies are responsible for 86%, or more than $2.4 trillion, of the nation's economic growth from 1992 to 1999, and

  • 95% of high tech, and 94% of business services jobs created between 1992 and 1999 are in metro areas
The report also ranks U. S. metro areas relative to themselves, states and national economies around the world. Among the findings:
  • Metro area economies compare even more favorably with world economies today than they did in 1997 (the first year DRI conducted this analysis). Los Angeles's gross output rose for instance, moving it's ranking from 19th to 17th in the world, overtaking Argentina and Russia's entire economic output.

  • If city/county metro economies were ranked with nations, 48 of the world's largest 100 economies, and 85 of the top 150 would be U.S. metro areas,

  • The GMP of the ten largest U.S. metro areas exceeds the combined output of 31 states.
According to NACo President and Howard County Chairman C. Vernon Gray, "This report tells a story of a robust national economy driven by metro economic engines. It describes the scope of metro areas, their vital contribution to the nation's economy, the level of income creation by metro areas, generation of new industries by metro areas, and the relationship between metro areas and the nation's overall economic growth."

Mayors and county leaders believe national and international economic policies must focus on the needs of the 319 economically potent metropolitan regions surveyed in the report. Conference Advisory Board Chair and New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial said, "We believe the data sustains our call to the Presidential candidates to support local and metropolitan economic growth by investing in transportation, distressed communities, and education and training."

Despite all of the favorable numbers, the report also documents the large pool of untapped labor that exists in metro areas. For instance, 4.2 million metro area workers were unemployed in November 1999. Conference Past President and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley focused on this by announcing a new program to prepare more Chicagoans for jobs in the building trades. The program, known as Skill Builders, will help candidates learn the skills they need to enter union apprenticeship programs. It will provide remedial training, if necessary, along with counseling and assistance until the worker actually finds employment on a job site.

The data being released today is the third annual report, entitled "U.S. Metro Economies: The Engines of America's Growth". Copies of the report, charts, graphs and accompanying data and information are available to members of the media who contact the press offices of NACo or USCM. In addition, this information will be posted at, and

NACo was created in 1935 when county officials wanted to have a strong voice in the nation's capital. More than six decades later, NACo continues to ensure that the nation's 3066 counties are heard and understood in the White House and the halls of Congress. NACo's membership totals over 1,800 counties, representing over 75 percent of the nation's population.

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the United States. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

* Gross Metropolitan Product is a concept analogous to Gross Domestic Product, the commonly accepted measure nations use to calculate the total annual value of goods and services they have produced.


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