World’s most productive cities

8 Apr

A think tank ranks 200 of the world’s largest metropolitan economies based on per capita income and employment growth.

Engines of growth

The Brookings Institution has issued a report on 200 of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, comparing per capita gross domestic product and changes in employment last year. Collectively, the areas generated 48% of global output, with only 14% of the world’s population and employment.

Among the report’s other findings: 90% of the fastest-growing economies were outside North America and Western Europe, U.S. metropolitan areas outperformed the national average in terms of income growth, and global metropolitan areas that specialized in business services, banking or commodities showed the strongest performance.

“If you have a high level of worker productivity, typically you enjoy a higher standard of living,” said Alan Berube, a senior fellow at Brookings and co-author of the report, titled “Global MetroMonitor 2011: Volatility, Growth and Recovery.”

Click forward through a slide show, published April 2, to see which cities were the most productive in the Brookings Institution study.

[[posterous-content:pid___0]] San Francisco

Per capita GDP: $58,783

San Francisco isn’t just where Tony Bennett left his heart. It’s the cultural center of Northern California’s Bay Area and a favorite destination of tourists from all over the world. A 2010 article in the San Francisco Chronicle described the tourism industry as the city’s largest private-sector employer and estimated that it was worth $7.8 billion annually.

Since the 1990s, San Francisco’s economy also has been positively affected by its proximity to Silicon Valley. During the late 2000s, the city attracted thousands of technology industry professionals.


Per capita GDP: $60,074

Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and its largest city. It is home to such institutions of higher learning as Harvard, Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The students who attend its schools account for $4.8 billion of the city’s annual economy, according to “Leadership Through Innovation: The History of Boston’s Economy,” a report published by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Boston is also home to such companies as Liberty Mutual, the Gillette unit of Procter & Gamble (PG) and Bain Capital, the former workplace of Republican presidential candidate — and former Massachusetts governor — Mitt Romney.
[[posterous-content:pid___2]] Stockholm

Per capita GDP: $61,458

Stockholm is Sweden’s capital and largest city. It’s also the country’s financial center, home to major national banks such as Handelsbanken (SVNLF), Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SVKEF) and Swedbank (SWDBY), as well as prominent insurance companies Skandia and Trygg-Hansa.

Of all the venture capital investments in Sweden, more than one-third are in Stockholm. While most of these are in the areas of electronics and information technology, the largest individual investments are in biotechnology, chemicals and industry, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University.

And clothing retailer H&M has its headquarters there.

[[posterous-content:pid___3]]Washington, D.C.

Per capita GDP: $62,943

For Washington to appear on this list is nothing short of remarkable, given the city’s recent history. It wasn’t long ago that a crack cocaine epidemic helped fuel a crime wave that had pundits labeling the city the “murder capital of the United States.”

However, the crime rate has dropped steadily, and last year it reached its lowest point since 1963.

All three branches of the U.S. government are located in the city, and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have their headquarters there. The federal government accounts for more than one-quarter of all jobs in the district.

The presence of the federal government is also indirectly responsible for the high number of lobbying firms operating there.

Washington’s five largest nonpolitical employers are Georgetown University, George Washington University, Washington Hospital Center, Children’s National Medical Center and Howard University.



Per capita GDP: $63,236

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. It’s home to some of the world’s largest financial institutions, including Credit Suisse (CS) and UBS (UBS).

Its low tax rate exerts an irresistible pull on foreign companies; among those with offices in the city are Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT) and IBM (IBM). (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

The city has one of the world’s highest standards of living. Zurich was surpassed only by Vienna in the 2011 Quality of Living rankings from consulting company Mercer.

Zurich is also home to the Swiss Stock Exchange.

[[posterous-content:pid___5]] Bridgeport, Conn.

Per capita GDP: $63,555

The most populous city in Connecticut is Bridgeport, with a population exceeding 144,000 in 2010. Its place in popular trivia is assured, as it is both the birthplace of the Frisbee and the location of the first Subway restaurant, according to the 2005 book “100 Great Businesses and the Minds Behind Them” by Emily Ross and Angus Holland.

The city’s medical sector is an important source of revenue. Three of Bridgeport’s top five employers are in the medical sector.

[[posterous-content:pid___6]]Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the only Middle Eastern city on this list. Situated on an island in the Persian Gulf, the city was responsible for almost 55% of the GDP generated by the UAE in 2007.

Abu Dhabi is the site of such financial institutions as the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. It’s also the largest oil producer in the UAE.

[[posterous-content:pid___7]]San Jose, Calif.

Per capita GDP: $68,141

San Jose is California’s third-largest city, but it has the state’s highest per capita GDP. Located in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay, the city was at the epicenter of the technology boom in the 1990s, and today “the capital of Silicon Valley” is still its unofficial nickname.

The city is close to bursting with technology companies. Adobe Systems (ADBE) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) are headquartered there, and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), IBM (IBM) and TiVo (TIVO) have major offices in the city. Kaiser Permanente and eBay (EBAY) are among the city’s other major employers.


Per capita GDP: $74,057

Oslo is the capital of Norway. It was founded almost 1,000 years ago by King Harald III and was nearly destroyed by fire during the 17th century.

It was ranked last year as the world’s second-most-expensive city, after Tokyo.

Oslo’s seaside location makes it ideal for companies in the maritime sector. Oslo is also home to the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research, Scandinavia’s largest independent research organization and the employer of 2,100 people.
[[posterous-content:pid___9]] Hartford, Conn.

Per capita GDP: $75,086

Hartford is the capital of Connecticut and home to some of the largest insurance companies in the United States, including Aetna (AET) and Travelers (TRV). The presence of these companies has earned the city a not particularly flashy nickname: “the insurance capital of the world.”

Hartford has taken a bit of a hit in recent years, as several major insurance companies, including MetLife (MET) and Cigna (CI), have left the city.

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