WASHINGTON Feb 24 Metropolitan areas are the
driving engines of economic activity in almost every U.S.
state, according to a study released by the Brookings
Institution on Thursday as mayors from across the country
resisted proposed cuts to federal aid to cities.
In 47 out of the 50 states, metropolitan areas generate the
majority of state economic output, according to the think tank,
which frequently researches economic policy.
Only in Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming does a majority of
economic activity occur outside metropolitan areas, Brookings
said. That means that in many states typically deemed rural,
such as Idaho, cities are responsible for most of the gross
The finding comes after President Barack Obama and the U.S.
Congress have suggested cutting grants for cities as part of an
effort to pare the federal deficit, which is projected to
exceed $1.6 trillion this year.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors met with members of the
Senate on Thursday to oppose reductions in Community
Development Block Grants and other programs.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a funding
bill that would slash 62.5 percent, or $1.5 billion, from the
grants, which cities and counties use to combat blight, help
create housing and repair infrastructure.
"These drastic cuts are unacceptable to the mayors of
America. Today, as non-partisan mayors we have raised our
voices," said Elizabeth Kautz, president of the Conference and
mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota, at a press conference.
Brookings found that the 366 metropolitan areas in the
country contain 84 percent of the U.S. population and produce
85 percent of U.S. exports.
They are also home to 93 percent of people employed in
science and engineering occupations.
"The economic future for states hinges largely on the
performance of their metropolitan economies, which bring
together the innovative firms, educated workers, and critical
infrastructure that will propel the next wave of U.S. economic
growth," the study found.
Brookings also found that in 15 states a single
metropolitan area "alone accounts for the bulk of economic
output," such as Boston in Massachusetts. In 16 states, just
two metropolitan areas generate the majority of the gross
domestic product, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco in
The economic recession that officially ended in 2009
created an historic collapse in many states' revenues. Because
all states except Vermont must end their fiscal years with
balanced budgets, many are still seeking areas to slash
spending through 2012.
In recent months, states have pulled back on the aid they
give to local governments, who are also hobbled by revenue
declines from the housing bust and recession and are under
pressure to spend more on help for the unemployed.
In the budget he unveiled last week, Obama suggested
cutting $300 million from the community grants program, which
Kautz said would limit economic expansion and job growth.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Diane Craft)