NLC Report Identifies 5 Types of Local Economies – Which One Are You?

A Sustainable City Network article (2017-09-05) highlighted the findings of a recently release report by the National League of Cities (NLC) which detailed five different types of local economies, including two types of economies for the urban and rural extremes and three types of economies for mid-sized or transitioning regions. The report, Local Economic Conditions: The Untold Story of the Varied Middle, found that out of the 224 cities examined, 84% reported their local economy has improved since 2016. From the article:

“Local leaders know that the unique assets and needs of their cities require customized approaches to economic development,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities. “Our report shows that both promising economic trends and complexities underlie local economies. America’s cities power the national economy, and with an even better understanding of the variance in local economies, city leaders will work together to move the country forward.”

The five groupings of local economies revealed by a cluster analysis of 224 cities are:
  • Rural Brain Drains (pop. <50k) – a cluster of highly rural cities with shrinking populations and a lack of affordable housing
  • Cities on Par (pop. 50-99k) – one of three mid-sized clusters that seems to be experiencing the national trend of slow, positive growth driven by new business starts
  • Room to Grow (pop. 100-299k) – one of three mid-sized clusters that is defined by favorable commercial property values, affordable housing stock and population growth
  • Mid-sized Business Boomers (pop. 100-299k) – one of three mid-sized clusters that features business expansions but faces significant misalignment of workforce skills and employer demands
  • Major Job Centers (pop. >300k) – a cluster of large cities with bountiful employment and business expansions that also faces significant affordable housing shortages and poverty issues …

“Until now, our glimpse into mid-sized cities has been limited to a fuzzy picture of places that are not rural, not large, but someplace in between,” said Christiana McFarland, director of research at National League of Cities. “This analysis enables us to tell the untold story of the varied middle and help cities localize solutions to meet their specific needs and better harness their assets.”

The report also analyzed the positive and negative economic drivers for each economy type and contained additional findings regarding new business starts, workforce skills misalignment, and affordable housing challenges.

Useful Links

NLC Website

NLC Report – 2017 Local Economic Conditions: The Untold Story of the Varied Middle