Economic Development

Grand Rapids ranks 69th in world for economic growth rate

January 22, 2015
Text Size:
Downtown Plan
The planning process for downtown development will include the river, as well as the business district. Photo by Johnny Quirin

With economic indicator levels outpacing the national economy, the Grand Rapids metro is also growing at a faster rate than Shanghai and other major markets across the globe.

The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program released the fourth edition of the Global MetroMonitor today, which ranks Grand Rapids 69th among the top 300 largest global metropolitan areas for its economic growth during 2013 to 2014.

The ranking situates the Grand Rapids metropolitan area between such places as No. 38 Austin, Texas and No. 39 Houston and No. 74 Vancouver, Canada, and No. 92 Shanghai.

Growth measures

As a joint initiative with JP Morgan Chase, the 2015 Global MetroMonitor compares growth patterns of the global metros using the annualized growth rate of real GDP per capita and annualized growth rate of employment, according to the Brookings study.

As of 2014, employment levels in Grand Rapids increased 3.3 percent to 526,380, while GDP per capita grew 0.6 percent to $50,398. With a population close to 1.02 million, Grand Rapids is ranked 261st in terms of size, yet its GDP per capita is 75th.

The report also ranks the Grand Rapids area based on its economic performance during the time periods of 2009 to 2014 and 2000 to 2014. Based on the overall 2.8-percent employment change and 2.1-percent GDP per capita growth from 2009 to 2014, the West Michigan metropolitan area ranks 73rd, while its performance during 2000 to 2014 placs it as 285th out of 300.

"Pocket of growth"

While the Grand Rapids metro is still considered “partially recovered” to the two economic indicator levels held in 2007, the economic development in region outpaces the national economic growth on both counts.

As a “pocket of growth,” Grand Rapids is one of 27 metros in North America last year outpacing the U.S. economy. The number of growth pockets places North America slightly behind the developing Asia-Pacific region, which had 29 metro growth areas driving its national economy.


In comparison, the Detroit metro lagged behind the national economic growth and ranks 237th overall during the 2013-2014 time period, with employment change of 0.3 percent and a GDP per capita growth of 0.8 percent.

As a roughly 4.3-million metro, Detroit ranks 107th in terms of size and ranks 99th for employment, with close to 1.89 million residents engaged in the labor market. However, the region has not fully recovered to pre-recession levels and ranks 300th when considering a longer view from 2000 to 2014, according to the study.

Global MetroMonitor report

Written by Joseph Parilla, Jesus Leal Trujillo and Alan Berube, with collaboration from Tao Ran, the report indicates the two key economic indicators used “are by no means the only metrics that should guide economic policymakers in cities” and suggests distribution of economic growth across societies and the effects of growth on the environment are also important to incorporate into decision making.

Parilla, a research analyst at Brookings and lead author of Global MetroMonitor, said when looking at the global economy through a metropolitan lens, it is apparent how uneven growth is in every major region.

“In developed economies like North America and Western Europe, cities like London and Houston are flying high, while others like Rotterdam and Montreal are struggling,” Parilla said. “Developing markets are growing faster overall, but vast differences separate cities in central China from those in the northeast and cities in Peru and Colombia from those in Brazil and Argentina.”

With the 300 largest global metros making up 20 percent of the world’s population and 47 percent of its output, the Global MetroMonitor was developed as part of the Global Cities Initiative to provide local leaders with in-depth data on global metros and regional standings.

The initiative is also meant to highlight best policy and practice innovation to promote improved health and prosperity of metropolitan areas.

Recent Articles by Rachel Weick

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus