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U.S. City Now Deemed World's 'Most Competitive'

New York is the leading city in the world for global competitiveness, edging out London and Singapore, according to a new report.

March 13, 2012
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New York City was named the top city in the world for global competitiveness March 12, edging out London and Singapore, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Paris and Hong Kong tied for fourth and fifth, while Washington, Chicago and Boston were the other U.S. cities to make the top 10. The report measured competitive across a variety of categories including economic strength, financial maturity, social and cultural character and global appeal. New York emerged as the leader because its scores were high virtually across the board.

It tied for first in financial maturity, tied for second in social and cultural character, came in fourth in economic strength (behind three Chinese cities), and was eighth in global appeal.

"The appeal of New York and London at the top of the rankings is largely due to their appeal to a wide range of businesses, even though both are regarded as world-beating financial services hubs," the report said.

One of New York's lowest rankings, however, was in human capital, where it checked in 18th. The report blamed a factor outside the city's control: federal immigration policy that prevents skilled professionals from around the world from migrating here. But the report lauded the tech campus being built on Roosevelt Island by Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology as an example of what the city is doing to compete in the global race for talent.

"We are the world's most diverse city and that diversity breeds new ideas and new innovations," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in the report. "Talented people want to live in places that offer not only the best career opportunities, but also the best cultural attractions and quality of life."

The report, which was commissioned by Citigroup and assessed 120 cities, generally found U.S. and European cities are the world's most competitive today, despite concerns over aging infrastructure and gaping budget deficits.

"Economic dynamism is definitely rising elsewhere, especially in Asian cities, but U.S. and European cities have legacy advantages that give them a strong competitive edge," said Leo Abruzzese, global forecasting director of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

But "the tectonic plates of global economic development are shifting," the report said. "In terms of economic competitiveness, the weight of power is moving rapidly eastward, as high growth Asian economies jostle to compete with their more developed rivals."

Asian cities dominated the economic strength category—which measures a city's overall GDP, growth rate and income—carrying all but five of the top 20 slots. Twelve cities in Asia were forecast to grow more than 10 percent a year between 2010 and 2016, while some of the faster-growing American cities, such as Dallas, Houston and Seattle, will grow at about 4 percent. Only nine of the world's megacities with populations of 10 million or more made it into the top 30 of the economic strength category.

"The rise of emerging markets will likely make a number of largely unknown cities prominent by 2020," the report said.


Daniel Massey writes for Crain's New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email

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