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U.S. Services Oriented Cities Grew Faster According To Census Data. By Jaime Niño
May 23, 2001

Cities where less than 10% of the workforce is in manufacturing grew at a weighted average of 11.9%, while cities where more than 20% of the population is in manufacturing grew at a weighted average of 5.5% according to a Survey by Harvard University and Brookings Institution scholars Edward Glaeser, and Jesse Shapiro using 2000 Census data and 1990 population data. The result confirms a trend of expansion of services and trade industries within cities and a movement of manufacturing activities out of city belts to less expensive areas. The trend is also the result of greater specialization of the US economy in supply of services. However, Gleaser and Shapiro find that manufacturing employment is less of a predictor of city decline in the 1990s than it was in earlier postwar years.

Cities with lower unemployment grew faster than cities were unemployment was higher. For instance, cities with unemployment above 10% grew in average less than 3%, while cities with unemployment was less than 5% grew at an average 21%. Scholars have acknowledged that work opportunities are closely related making these trends in city growth not surprising. However, cities with a greater concentration of skill workers grew faster than cities with less skilled workers. Although the average level of education of a city’s workforce has always been a predictor of city growth, since 1970 this relation is more robust. Cities where less the 15% of the workforce has college education grew on average 7.5% while cities where more than 25% of the workforce had college education grew on average 16%.

The survey also finds that cities with greater specialization in health services exhibited almost 20% less growth than cities that employed fewer workers in health services. The relation has less to do with health service dependant cities attracting older populations and more with greater poverty. As it turns out, cities with a greater share of the population with low incomes demands greater health care services.

The full report may be downloaded from the Brookings Institution website at
The paper may also be downloaded from the Articles section of SItrends Library

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