Thursday, July 29, 2010
By John Schneider
Our colleagues at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings have released a new report about how the top 100 metro areas are doing in boosting U.S. exports across the globe. Why does it matter? Because, according to Brookings, increasing the nation’s export capacity is a sure path to stronger job growth.
The 100 largest U. S. metros produced 64 percent of U. S. exports in 2008 (the last year data was available), and the top ten U. S. metros with the highest value of exports produced 43 percent of all the top 100 metro areas exports in 2008. Exports supported 7.7 million jobs in the top 100 metro areas.
The good news is that the Boston metro area made the top ten on Brookings’s list of exports produced, ranking 7th. No surprise here: Boston’s top exporting industries were computers and electronics. But overall, Massachusetts did not fare very well. The Providence-New Bedford-Fall River metro area ranked 45th, Worcester ranked 67th, and Springfield ranked 78th.
Jobs and Economic Security
But another way to cut the numbers is to look at metro areas ranked by the share of exports out of total GMP. On this measure, Boston falls all the way to 54, with Providence-New Bedford-Fall River ranking 63rd, and Springfield 64th. Worcester beats them all coming in at 36, according to Brookings. Who ranks number one on the GMP list? Wichita, KS where over a quarter of their GMP is generated by exports.
As we argued in our 2007 report Mass Jobs: Meeting the Challenges of a Shifting Economy, boosting the state’s exports—and the jobs that come with them—should be a top priority, especially given the commonwealth’s proximity to Canada and Great Britain, two of the top three U.S. export markets. The Patrick administration and the legislature have moved in this direction in recent months by creating state incentives for companies that produce more export-based jobs. The economic development bill currently stuck in conference committee will also help, especially in the Gateway Cities.
But not only are jobs at stake. The Brookings report found a strong link between export oriented metros and innovation. More export activity generates more innovation, a key driver of economic growth and jobs. We ought to be thinking about how we can strengthen our capacity to compete for exports by expanding the markets for the services and products we produce to customers around the world.