July 10, 2001

Conference of Mayors President Launches Nationwide "Competitive Cities Tour"
Releases New Report Showing Many U.S. Metro Areas Outpace States, Even Nations, in Economic Output

Washington, DC -- Today, delivering the keynote address at a National Press Club luncheon, Conference President and New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial announced a nationwide "Competitive Cities" tour dramatizing the renaissance of America’s cities during the 1990s. To set the stage for the tour, Morial released data from a new report showing that America’s cities drive the national economy, and outpace states, and even nations, in economic output.

Download the Full Transcript of the Speech

Download the Full Report and Charts

Metro Economies: A Decade of Prosperity

"The new data we are releasing today makes it clear that metropolitan economies are the engines of America's growth and driving America’s economy," Morial said in releasing the report. "Metro regions are growing, producing more, and creating unprecedented levels of employment."

The data is part of the fourth annual report, entitled "U.S. Metro Economies: A Decade of 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. (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.)

This report 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. The report also ranks U. S. metro areas relative to themselves, states and national economies around the world. Among the key findings of the 2001 report:


  • In 2000, U.S. Metro areas retained their leadership status in the world economy—if treated as nations, U.S. metro areas would comprise 47 of the world’s largest economies.
  • New York now ranks as the 14th largest economy in the world, compared to last year’s ranking of 16th; Los Angles moved from 17th to 16th; and Chicago moved from 19th to 18th in world ranking; Boston moved from 24th to 23rd. The New York metro area had more economic output than Australia; Los Angeles more than the Netherlands; Chicago more than Taiwan, Argentina, Russia, or Switzerland; Boston more than Belgium, Sweden or Turkey; Philadelphia and Houston more than Hong Kong.
  • If the five largest U.S. metro areas were treated as a single country, it would rank as the fourth largest economy in the world ($1.59 trillion), trailing only the U.S., Japan and Germany.


  • The combined gross economic output of the top ten U.S. metro areas in 2000 was $2.43 trillion—an amount greater than the combined economic output of 31 states ($2.39 trillion).
  • In 2000, U.S. metro areas contributed to the U.S. economy 84 percent of employment (111 million jobs); 85 percent of Gross Domestic Product ($8.476 trillion); and 88 percent of labor income ($4.22 trillion).
  • Over the past decade, the majority of new jobs in the financial services and transportation and utilities sectors were created within cities: 88 percent, or 804,000 jobs in financial services, and 90 percent, or 1.116 million jobs in transportation and utilities.

The 1990s

  • U.S. metro areas’ contribution to Gross Domestic Product grew from 84.3 percent in 1990 to 84.7 percent in 2000 and is forecast to increase steadily over the next 25 years, reaching 86.9 percent in 2025.
  • U.S. metro areas contributed an astounding 86 percent, or $3.66 trillion, of economic growth to the U.S. economy during the 1990s—an amount larger than the 2000 gross domestic product of Germany and the United Kingdom combined.
  • Las Vegas (10.3%), Austin (9.8%), Boise (9.4%), Laredo (9.4%) and Phoenix (9.2%) had the fastest average annual growth rate for gross metropolitan product in the 1990s.

Mayors believe national and international economic policies must focus on the needs of the 319 economically potent metropolitan regions surveyed in the report. "We believe that the data we’ve seen sustain our call to the Congress and the Administration to support local and metropolitan economic growth by investing in transportation, distressed communities, and education and training," Morial said.

Nationwide Competitive Cities Tour

Mayor Morial also announced a nationwide "Competitive Cities Tour" to promote America’s metro areas as competitive powerhouses in the national and international economic arenas.

The tour, scheduled to begin in September, will highlight the best practices and strategies employed by Mayors across the country to foster what Mayor Morial calls the six keys to keeping cities competitive:

  • Safe streets and communities;
  • A skilled workforce;
  • The arts, as both a cultural/educational and economic force in communities;
  • Strong infrastructure;
  • Good, affordable housing; and
  • Strong economies.

"America’s cities are cultural destinations for people around the world," Morial said in his address. "Cities are economic powerhouses. You may not see it, but every day, in cities across the nation, Mayors are working to forge partnerships on the national and international economic stages. What does it mean when the City of Denver opens trade offices in London and China, or negotiates with airlines for international non-stop flights bringing tourism and business travel into the city? Or when the Mayor of Akron brokers an agreement which locates a German business in that city, bringing with it 70 new jobs and millions of dollars annually in economic output?

"It might mean, if you really think about it, that there are a number of Mayors in this country who are taking their rightful places as world economic leaders. Because of their economic clout, in the coming years you will see mayors leading trade delegations as much if not more so than governors. Institutions involved in promoting trade, such as the Commerce Department, will have to reinvent themselves to think metro economies, not states." Morial continued." If this nationwide tour of America’s Competitive Cities accomplishes one goal, I hope that it’s to secure our cities’ rightful place in the dialogue on national and international economic issues and development."

Copies of the report, charts, graphs and accompanying data and information, as well as the full text of Mayor Morial’s address, will be posted on the Conference’s website,, as of 2:00pm EST on Tuesday, July 10.

CONTACT: Jubi Headley, (202) 861-6766 (office); (202) 744-9337 (mobile)

The U. S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,200 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.


©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors