Baltimore vs. Minneapolis

President Trump’s tweet storm against Rep. Elijah Cummings (who richly deserves it) has brought attention to the city of Baltimore. Trump has done a number of tweets on the subject; these were the first:

Since then there have been more, including retweets of videos showing appalling decay and garbage in Cummings’s district. Here is one of the recent ones:

As always, some have reacted with outrage to the president’s tweets. Some point out that other cities, like Chicago and New York, have larger rat populations than Baltimore. But they are also far bigger cities. When it comes to crime, Trump was on the money: Baltimore is indeed the most dangerous large city in the United States. We have described many times how the anti-police movement in Baltimore, led by the city’s elected officials, has driven the sky-high homicide rate there.

So as usual, liberals can squawk about the details, but President Trump was correct in substance.

The point I want to make is different. I don’t think anyone is surprised to learn that Baltimore has a lot of poverty, a high crime rate, and generally bad living conditions. Most people, however, don’t think of the Twin Cities in those terms: Minneapolis, St. Paul and their suburbs have the reputation of being relatively low-crime, relatively free of corruption, and certainly not on the list of rodent-infested urban areas. But here is a surprising fact: in the 21st century, the Baltimore metro area has experienced better economic growth than the Twin Cities.

The economist who works for my organization, John Phelan, looked at the gross domestic product of the Twin Cities metropolitan statistical area (as defined by the federal government) in the year 2000. He then identified the six next larger and six next smaller metropolitan statistical areas, by gross domestic product, to define a peer group. Finally, he checked the GDP numbers for each of those 13 metro areas as of 2017. This chart shows the results. The Twin Cities metro area ranked 11th out of the 13 in economic growth, losing even to Baltimore. Click to enlarge:

I don’t know how to explain these numbers except with the conclusion that the liberal policies prevailing in Minnesota and in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are so economically destructive that they outweigh even the consequences of urban decay that we see in places like Baltimore.

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