Most central cities of the large metropolitan areas of
the Midwest showed signs of improvement during
the 1990s compared with the previous two decades,
according to such broad measures as population, employment,
unemployment, and income. If such gains
can be sustained, it will be welcome news for households
residing in central cities who experienced erosion
of their income and tax base during the second
half of the 20th century. Such gains might also provide
important evidence of the results of the recent policies
of big city mayors, who have been very active in both
improving the quality of urban life.through transportation,
crime, and school reform initiatives.and
engaging in economic development initiatives.such
as work force training and rebuilding city infrastructure.
In this article, I analyze broad measures of 11
central city economies since 1970 to assess whether
there has been any underlying structural improvement
in big city performance beyond the effects of the
general U.S. and regional economic expansion.
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