Prosperity Watch Issue 58, No. 1: Growth in North Carolina metro areas hasn’t increased inclusion

February 2, 2016

The Metro Monitor, a new tool from the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, identifies new measures of economic success for metropolitan areas. Their analysis looks at the 100 largest metro areas in America, including four metros in North Carolina, and ranks each according to performance on growth, prosperity and inclusion.

There's an important underlying message to this new research: policies need to better connect an increase in long-term growth with improved prosperity and inclusion. The uneven, slow recovery from the Great Recession makes it clear that growth alone cannot ensure better economic outcomes for everyone. It's policies, and new approaches to economic development, that help build an economy that works for everyone.

In North Carolina, where discussion of the uneven recovery has largely focused on the divide between urban and rural areas, this data shows challenges exist even within the major metropolitan areas of the state and that performance on growth doesn’t necessarily drive performance on inclusion and prosperity. Researchers assessed growth based on change in jobs, aggregate wages, and gross metropolitan product, a local estimate based on the methodology for calculating Gross Domestic Product.

Since 2009, Raleigh has ranked 13th among all 100 metro areas in the country in terms of performance on the composite measure of economic growth but only 83rd in inclusion. Over the same period, Winston-Salem ranked 85th in inclusion and 80th among the country’s 100 largest metro areas in growth.

North Carolina’s metro areas joined their Southern peers who performed among the lowest in the nation on inclusion due to the combination of declines in median wages, increases in the poverty rate and a drop in employment levels. As the Brookings Institution notes, a targeted response by metropolitan areas will be needed to better position these communities for economic success that everyone can enjoy.


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