The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Big Blue Cities Losing The Race for The Future

The map of America’s wealth is changing. With the exception of San Francisco, the cities that generated America’s prosperity and attracted its greatest talent for over a century are now losing out to cities that few outside the US know exist: Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are losing significant ground while Austin, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, and Oklahoma City are experiencing rapid growth. Joel Kotkin at New Geography takes Florida as an example:

Jerry Mallot, president of the local business development group Jaxusa Partnership, suggests that low costs, a high rate of housing affordability and Florida’s lack of income tax make Jacksonville attractive to companies seeking to expand or relocate. The state, according to a recent report from New Jersey-based www.BizCosts.com, is now home to five of the country’s least expensive and most pro-business cities. Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa also are all among the U.S. metro areas adding college-educated residents the fastest.

The high cost, high tax states are suffering as a result. In terms of growth, New York ranks 32nd out of the 51 largest metro areas; Los Angeles ranks 36th; and Chicago ranks 43rd. We don’t expect that Oklahoma City will ever overtake New York as America’s cultural powerhouse no matter how many college graduates and high-paying jobs it attracts, but this trend can’t be ignored.

For decades, America’s most educated and highest earning workers only lived in a handful of cities and states. With the onerous tax and regulatory structures those cities and states currently impose, alternative regions are an attractive option. As the competition among cities and states for good jobs spreads, American workers and families will benefit: if you want to earn a high salary but also want affordable housing and good public schools, you don’t have to feel pressured to sacrifice one for the other.

This augurs a bumpy ride ahead for diehard blue cities like New York and Chicago, but overall, greater choice for workers and families will be a good thing.

Published on February 9, 2013 10:00 am