The financial services sector (finance, insurance, real estate, management) lies at the heart of the economic crisis and recession. This is the sector that doubled in its share of the labor force over the last 30 years, creating vast but uneven wealth. It is instructive to see which American cities are most culpable in these excesses.
New York dominates, as it has for centuries, especially if we include neighboring Fairfield county, CT (Bridgeport, Stamford, Greenwich), based on its very high share (20 %) of resident employees in finance. This does not include the very high share of incomes that financial services represents in the New York area, as discussed in our recent report on the city’s middle class.
But Washington, DC has by far the highest share; there are also high shares in neighboring Baltimore and Richmond. These figures illustrate the rising relative power of center of government in the contemporary political economy. Los Angeles is roughly equivalent, but with a slightly lower share than New York. Chicago, the economic capital of the interior, tops off the big four centers of control.
The next tier of five major regional capitals, all also Federal Reserve cities, are Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco, with Boston and San Francisco among places with the highest shares in finance. They are followed by four regional capitals on the path to financial stardom – if you can use that term today – including Miami, Houston and Seattle and Phoenix, as well as another federal reserve city, Minneapolis.
Several major metropolitan areas are far less important in finance than in earlier times. These include the Rust Belt cities of Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. These, in turn, are being challenged by the growing smaller metro areas and regional capitals of Denver, Portland, San Diego, Sacramento and Tampa-St. Petersburg.
Finally smaller, often growing metropolises with high shares in finance include, most obviously Charlotte, but also Austin, Columbus, Madison, Raleigh, Des Moines and Olympia, WA, all state capitals and/or university towns. But the highest shares, after Bridgeport are located smaller areas in Florida, Palm Coast and Fort Walton Beach.
Total Population (millions)
Total labor force (millions)
Number in Finance (thousands)
|Tampa St. Pete||2.7||1.3||203||15.6|