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A new report shows jobs shifting back to central cities

In a new report by Joe Cortright at City Observatory shows that between 2007 and 2011, jobs grew in central cities while actually declining somewhat in the periphery. Or more specifically, employment within a 3 mile radius of the city center grew 0.5%, while jobs beyond that radius declined by 0.1%. This indicates a reverse in the long-term trend of suburban job growth and slower or negative urban growth.

Cortright Graph

This seems to strengthen my observation, with Cathy Yang Liu, that central cities have an advantage in growing segments of the economy; in particular, creative industries. In our 2012 article “Are Central Cities More Creative? The Intrametropolitan Geography of Creative Industries,” we noted that creative industries are more centralized, though in the period studied (1998-2002), growth in the suburbs still outpaced those in the central cities.  Apparently this trend continued between 2002 and 2007, but reversed dramatically between 2007-2011. According to Cortright, “Our analysis of census data shows that downtown employment centers of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas are recording faster job growth than areas located further from the city center.”

And it appears that creative industries are driving this new growth. The report goes on to say that

“The strength of city centers appears to be driven by a combination of the growing attractiveness of urban living, and the relatively stronger performance of urban-centered industries (business and professional services, software) relative to decentralized industries (construction, manufacturing) in this economic cycle.”

And this may suggest a longer-term trend. As Cortright concludes, “…there are structural forces that suggest the trend of center-led growth will continue.” Sounds about right to me.

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