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Rust Belt Rising?

The recently released Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers by metro show the usual suspects are continuing to grow their economies at a faster rate. The tech powerhouses, San Jose, Austin and Seattle lead all large metros (those with at least 1 million people) in GDP growth between 2016 and 2017. Each of these metros grew by at least 5 percent. San Antonio, which has been on quite a roll as of late, checks in at number 4 with Nashville rounding out the top 5.

Perhaps the most surprising and encouraging sign from this GDP data is resurgence of some (formerly struggling) Rust Belt metros. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Grand Rapids all showed strong economic growth between 2016 and 2017. Grand Rapids is a bit of an exception here as their growth last year is just a continuation of a strong run.

Cleveland saw strong growth in natural resources and professional and business services while a resurgence in durable goods manufacturing lead the way in Detroit and Grand Rapids. In Pittsburgh, the economic surge was led by a revitalized mining industry. While the return of manufacturing and mining have been good to these metros, they have also shown growth in variety of other industries such as finance and arts, entertainment and recreation. These metro economies have diversified and are stronger for it.

For the mid-size metros, we see a wide variety of strong and struggling economies throughout the country. Provo, Utah was the fastest growing mid-sized metro with a 5.6 percent annual growth rate. It was followed by Palm Bay, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Boise, Idaho; and Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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