Midwest Success Stories


My latest report has just been released by the Manhattan Institute. It’s called, “Midwest Success Stories: These 10 Cities Are Blooming, Not Rusting.

The report digs deeper into some of the themes I’ve highlighted here in the past (and also dovetails nicely with the recent McKinsey Global Institute report on the future of work in America). It’s a look at 10 cities in nine states in the greater Midwest that are doing well economically and demographically even if they trail the performance of coastal superstars and sunbelt boomtowns.

The point I focus on again is that these places draw people almost entirely from their own home state, and are not national talent draws in the way sunbelt cities are. This is needs to change if they want to realize their full ambitions as cities – and also to continue their performance as the states they draw from stagnant or decline in population outside of their handful of growing metro regions.

The cities I look at are: Cincinnati, Columbus, Des Moines, Fargo, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Lexington (KY), Madison, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

To whet your appetite for the report, here’s a graph comparing in-state vs. out-of-state migration based on IRS tax returns for three state capital, single state metros in the Midwest and the in the South.

When I first looked at this data a while back, what popped out at me is that these Sunbelt cities are not especially drawing from their home states. Nashville and Raleigh draw fewer net migrants from their home state than any of the three Midwest cities here. So it’s not just a matter of migration favoring short distance over long distance moves (which it tends to do in general). The migration patterns are very different in these Sunbelt cities vs. the Midwest.

Click through to read the report.