Regional Divisions Dampen 90s Prosperity
New Census Data Show Economic Gains Vary by Region?/em>
John R. Logan, Director
Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research
University at Albany
June 5, 2002
|This report and the data analyses on
which it is based were completed with the assistance of Deirdre Oakley, Jacob Stowell, and
The new census figures about metropolitan America contain
some good news. More adults now have a college education and professional or managerial
jobs than a decade ago. Incomes are up, and poverty and unemployment have dipped slightly.
But analyses of these data by the Mumford Center reveal a much more mixed picture:
Trends vary dramatically around the country. The nations two
global cities, New York and Los Angeles, rather than leading the nation, have lagged well
behind, as have the metropolitan regions that surround them. The big improvements are in
the Midwest and South: the Midwest is beginning to shed its rustbelt image, and many
Southern metro areas continue their upward trajectory.
These contrasts are especially stark within California. Two Californias
have emerged: a northern section that has experienced strong economic growth, and a
southern and central section in decline.
Especially in regions that fell behind during the decade, there is a
pattern of large increases in per capita income, reflecting prosperity among the most
affluent residents, but more modest gains for middle class and little change for poor
In May 2002, the Census Bureau released Demographic Profile data on a wide
range of social and economic indicators, based on the censuss long form
questionnaire, which was completed by a 1-in-6 sample of households. This report examines
trends in economic prosperity in the Nations 331 metropolitan areas between 1990 and
2000 with a total current population of 225 million people.
Rather than depend on a single indicator, we have created the Mumford Prosperity Index
(MPI) with eight equally weighted components. It includes three income measures (median
household income, per capita income, and percent below the poverty line), percent
unemployed, two measures of human capital (percentage of the population who are college
educated and in professional and managerial occupations), as well as two housing
indicators (the vacancy rate and percent homeowners). The following analysis reports
values for the MPI as well as for several individual indicators.
?small>Material in this report, including charts and tables, may be reproduced with
acknowledgment of the Mumford Center as the source.