Richard Florida's team went to town on some recent Moody's Economy.com data detailing the economic production of US cities. My first thought was that the map undermined my thinking that Pittsburgh would serve as one of the few ports in the current economic storm. However, Chris Briem came to my rescue this afternoon and salvaged my unbridled optimism.
My second thought was how far we've come in a short time, seriously considering metropolitan economic data on par with national or state level measures. During the beginning of my graduate studies in the late 1990s, the idea of gathering world city data was radical. Today, it seems almost commonplace.
Our traditional geographies of political economy aren't all that useful in assessing today's crisis. We still listen to and watch stories about countries in economic crisis, but this kind of reporting glosses over the regional variance in economic performance. Furthermore, pitting Ohio against Michigan or Pennsylvania makes sense only in terms of traditional rivalry. In Rust Belt terms, Pittsburgh is a beacon of hope.