In the late 80’s, ZZ Top released a single titled “World of Swirl.” It’s not their most memorable work, but it perfectly describes the daily news cycle in 2017. “Everything’s hazy, everything’s a blur… in a world of swirl.”
That’s why we can all be forgiven for paying too little attention to one of the most important headlines of the year: Charleston being on the “surprisingly short list of US metro areas achieving inclusive economic growth.”
This finding came this spring from the Brookings Institution’s Metro Monitor – a dashboard that provides objective metrics on regional economies. Their analysis found that between 2010 and 2015, Charleston was one of only four of America’s 100 largest metro regions that achieved:
Growth – defined by jobs and gross economic output,
Prosperity – defined by increase in productivity and wages, and
Inclusion – defined by how economic gains are distributed.
Over that five year period, all of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas added jobs and output, 30 increased productivity and average wages, but in only four regions did those growth outcomes benefit a majority of workers of all races and ethnicities: Albany, NY, Austin, TX, Charleston, SC and Denver, CO.
Analysts found that those four regions added more middle-skill jobs in high-value traded sectors like business services, information and manufacturing. They also balanced those jobs with increased employment at all skill levels in local serving sectors like construction, health care and hospitality.
Do these findings mean we declare victory on economic inclusion? Absolutely not! We have a long way to go to ensure that everyone in the region is sharing the gains of our growing economy. But it is a strong signal that we’re headed in the right direction.
In our world of swirl, that’s a milestone worth pausing to celebrate.
Follow Ian on Twitter @Ianscott843
Ian Scott, Senior Vice President of Advocacy