Patrick Ishmael
In Part Four, I wrote about how the number of jobs in Saint Louis' "central core" fell dramatically in the last decade. The Brookings Institution found that in the 3 miles surrounding Saint Louis' business district, the city had lost almost 28,000 jobs from 2000 to 2010. Of the job growth the region did experience, those jobs predominantly materialized far outside the city center.

Kansas City feels Saint Louis' pain. Like Saint Louis, Kansas City has undertaken a series of urban redevelopment plans of its own that, again, have focused on attracting the "hip" class to the city center, oftentimes with significant tax incentives. And as has become commonplace, the hip have come, but the jobs have not.
A report released [...] by the Brookings Institution said that in 2010 just 16.9 percent of the area’s jobs were in the core, defined as within three miles of Kansas City’s downtown. That’s down from 20.5 percent in 2000.

Dragged down by the Great Recession, the raw number of jobs in the central core also shrank from 180,000 in 2000 to 140,000 in 2010, according to the study.

For areas between 3 and 10 miles from the city center, the number of jobs also dropped. But between 10 and 35 miles from the central business district? As in Saint Louis, the total number of jobs rose — and in Kansas City's case, they rose significantly.

The chart below, created by the Kansas City Star, tells the decade-long tale.

Indeed, all of the regions in Kansas City were buffeted by the Great Recession. Notably, the 10- to 35-mile band was still shy of its intra-decade high as of 2010. But the downtown Kansas City job figures tell a pretty unambiguous tale: jobs have been falling in Kansas City's central core. Like Saint Louis, population in downtown Kansas City rose over the decade, but . . . (emphasis mine)
. . . new residents hadn't translated directly to job creation in the core by the time the Brookings information was compiled.

Since then, “we’re seeing some small businesses locate in the Crossroads and the like, but they don’t employ that many,” said Jeff Pinkerton, economist at the Mid-America Regional Council. “And we haven’t had any major employer move downtown recently.

“The fact is that jobs follow rooftops, and housing is growing in the suburbs.”

As has been explained before, "the hip crowd" does not typically have much in the way of jobs coattails. Unfortunately, it seems, Saint Louis and Kansas City know this all too well.

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael
Director of Government Accountability

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.