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When it comes to narratives about coastal superstar cities and a rising Sunbelt, "the reality is that most studies that purport to talk about cities are really talking about the performance of broader metropolitan areas," Richard Florida writes. A focus on cities themselves reveals uneven patterns of urban revitalization, where some are experiencing heady growth while others "continue to struggle and lose ground, whether to other cities or their own suburbs."
For the first of a four-part series, Florida worked with a team of researchers to examine America's 50 largest "core or principal cities" through the lenses of population and employment growth over the years 2012 through 2017.
In terms of population, the narrative of a burgeoning Sunbelt and a declining Frost Belt appears to hold. "However, the most rapidly growing large cities are not sprawling, unregulated Sunbelt ones (such as Houston), but two relatively expensive tech hubs, anchored by leading research universities—Seattle and Austin."
Employment patterns match the narrative of Sunbelt ascent even better, with the list of fastest-growing job markets in cities mirroring the list for metros. For both population and employment growth, "superstar" cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco rank only average.