Metros face “New Realities,” According to Brookings Institute Report

September 3, 2010 at 9:48 am 1 comment

This is a good read for Snohomish County leaders.

The “New Realities” will have a dramatic effect on the future of metros and the metro’s effect on U.S. economic growth and prosperity, according to a recent Brookings Institute study. Metropolitan areas have changed from their traditional groupings (e.g., Sun Belt vs. Rust Belt and Southwest vs. North East) into a new demographic seven-category typology of metropolitan cities. Metros that have diversified successfully were among the “demographic winners” of the 2000s. However, metros still face similar issues regarding an educated and skilled workforce. The report’s authors argues that local, state and federal governments will have to enact legislation that will sustain long-term economic growth and prosperity.

The top 100 most populated metropolitan areas were classified into one of seven categories. Economic growth and educational achievement were among the variables that shaped these categories. These categories include:

  • Next Frontier Metro Areas were the demographic winners of the 2000s due to their ability to retain and attract an educated & skilled workforce that has made them.
  • New Heartland Metro Areas have attracted and retained an educated and skilled workforce, but their economies are mostly service oriented. This includes the “New South.”
  • Diverse Giant Metro Areas retained and attracted skilled workers, but face large income disparities. However, these cities still play a prominent role in U.S. growth.
  • Border Growth Metro Areas saw rapid population growth, but struggle to develop a diversified and sustainable economy due to a lack of an educated workforce.
  • Mid-Sized Magnet Metro Areas lack a skilled and educated workforce that keeps them from developing a diversified and sustainable economy.
  • Skilled Anchors have higher than average educational achievement and have transitioned from manufacturing and shipping-related industries to a more diversified economy. They are mostly located in the North East.
  • Industrial Cores seem to be the most disadvantaged areas having low educational achievement and have not been able to transition from their industrial heritage to a diversified economy.

Metro areas that succeed in the 2000s created diversified economies with an abundance of educated skilled laborers according to the report. The researchers provide several recommendations that the U.S. will need to take to make sure that metros continue to drive the U.S. economy. They include:

  • The federal government should focus on programs that improve rates of education attainment versus just enrollment
  • Border Growth and Mid-Sized Magnets should focus on programs that attract and retain high achieving students and equip their workforce with the skills necessary to keep them competitive in the global economy.
  • Diverse Giants and Next Frontiers need to develop sustainability programs to maintain sustainable economic growth due to increasing demand on metro infrastructure.
  • New Heartland areas must develop programs that attract and maintain highly-skilled workers in industry to develop a diversified economy similar to the Next Frontiers.
  • Skilled Anchors and Industrial Core areas will have to protect against “brain drain.” Even though these two areas are at different stages of economic development, they still face issues regarding their aging population.

Educational achievement of young adults is another concern raised by the study. Historically, generations have “out-attained” the previous generation’s education achievement levels. However, young adults’ completion rates of higher education appear to be stalling, according to Brookings Institute research. Large metros exemplify this growing disparity: 35-to-44 year-olds in large metro areas post higher degree attainment rates than their 25-to-34 year-old counterparts. The flattening of higher education completion rates will have direct effect on U.S. economic growth. Due to the rapidly changing U.S. labor market increasing demand for higher-levels of education and a more skilled workforce that the future generation may not be able to supply, according to researchers. The U.S. labor market’s increasing demand for highly educated and skilled workers may not be satisfied if policymakers do not increase the educational achievement of young adults. Read the Report …


Entry filed under: Brookings Institute, Metropolitan Trends. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Columbus Economy  |  November 11, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Diversification of economy is a huge part of metro success. Interesting to note that young adults may not be achieving as much as expected since bringing 20-somethings to metro areas is thought to be an important part of success.


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