Sunday, June 28, 2009

Great Recession Geography

The view from Southern California:

In the nation's manufacturing belt, which rings the Great Lakes from upstate New York to eastern Minnesota, many metro areas have suffered job declines over multiple decades. This recession has accelerated those losses dramatically in areas that depend most on the auto industry. Detroit, for instance, has lost a stunning 12% in just the last five years. In Ohio, Toledo and Youngstown have been similarly battered.

But at the other end of the region, Rochester, N.Y., is faring relatively well. It still has a lot of manufacturing jobs, but they're in areas in which demand has remained fairly strong, such as imaging technologies and healthcare devices. And the area benefits from the presence of major universities -- nationally, the education industry has added jobs over the course of the recession.

A similar story plays out across the metropolitan map based on underlying economic specialization, both positive (Pittsburgh in healthcare; Washington in government) and negative (Orlando in tourism; Charlotte in banking).

The rehash of the Brookings report neatly divides up the nation into economic regions regarding the current downturn. The further east you go in the Rust Belt, the better it is. Might the influence of the East Coast megalopolis be spreading westward? I'm increasingly convinced that it is.


Stephen Gross said...

Maybe so. Maybe not. I live in Minneapolis, where the med tech sector is doing great. I think metropolitan success is tied mostly to a competitive mix of industries, a solid stable of universities and labor/talent, and a desirable and affordable lifestyle.

Jim Russell said...

If your metro isn't an alpha or beta world city, then it's economic health is mostly dependent upon proximity to one.

My brother interviewed for a job at UW-Madison. I was interested to hear that the school pitches is proximity to Chicago as a major selling point.

Urban economic development is all about leveraging proximity and connectivity. At least, that's my latest hypothesis.