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Make the Twin Cities Great Again!

Ahead of President Trump’s visit to Minneapolis tomorrow, the city’s mayor, Jacob Frey, has been trying to generate a Twitter spat with the Tweeter-in-Chief. You might think this is like Ryan Seacrest trying to pick a boxing match with Mike Tyson. You might think that a mayor with violent crime surging in his downtown would have more useful things to do.

Indeed, a look at the economic data suggests that Mayor Frey should lay off Twitter and focus on the job in hand – not bad advice for the president, either.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis gives us GDP numbers for each of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States, including the Twin Cities. From this, we can compare, say, 2010 to 2017, the most recent year for which we have data. We can then create a peer group to compare the Twin Cities to. Ranking the MSAs by GDP for 2010, we see that the Twin Cities ranked 14th largest in the country. We can use the 10 MSAs above and the 10 below to create our peer group.

Twin Cities GDP growth is below the average for its peer group

Figure 1 shows the real terms change in GDP for the Twin Cities and its peers – 21 MSAs in all – from 2010 to 2017. We see that the Twin Cities performed relatively poorly, ranking 16th out of 21, below even Detroit.

Figure 1: Real change in GDP, 2010-2017

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Twin Cities population growth is below the average for its peer group

Figure 2 shows how the Twin Cities compare when it comes to population growth. Again, we lag the average of our peers, coming in at 15th out of the 21 MSAs.

Figure 2: Change in population, 2010-2017

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Twin Cities GDP growth is below the average for its peer group

Figure 3 shows how the Twin Cities has fared against its peers when it comes to job creation. And, again, we lag the average, coming in 16th out of the 21, and, again, legging Detroit.

Figure 3: Change in employment, 2010-2017

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The Twin Cities face real challenges. America’s challenges will not go away by its Chief Executive Tweeting and, Mayor Frey, neither will those of Minneapolis.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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