America's Central Cities and the Location of Work: Can Cities Compete With Their Suburbs?

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2005

Publication Title

Journal of the American Planning Association


The 1990s were heralded as a comeback decade for America's central cities, but it is now clear that their experiences varied widely during this purported renaissance. In this article, we first examine the competitive position of central cities in the market for jobs by reviewing the current literature on cities and work. We then analyze correlations between city and suburban job growth rates and reexamine our previous research on cities in the 1990s using data from 1998 to 2001. We draw five practical lessons from this analysis. First, though central cities recent achievements differ, economic distress persists. Second, employment growth in central cities depends on healthy regional employment growth. Third, economic development planning ' must reflect private companies concern for profits. Fourth, economic success requires an educated workforce. Finally, central city governments should practice the habits of growth, without neglecting to plan for the long term. All municipalities, even historically dominant central cities, now have competitors.

Original Citation

Hill, E. W., & Brennan, J. (2005). America's Central Cities and the Location of Work. Journal Of The American Planning Association, 71(4), 411-432.