published an analysis of growth in Denver and other state capitals.
The cities that made the Forbes
list were not very surprising. They were more or less the same names you'll find on similar "hot cities" lists published by other media outlets, such as Bloomberg and Money magazine: Houston, Raleigh, Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Nashville, and so on.
Like other publications, Forbes
took a stab at trying to explain why certain cities made it onto their list. It noted that the fracking-based oil and gas boom helped put five Texas cities in the top twenty, while thriving tech sectors explained why Seattle and the three California cities made the cut.
One commonality, however, that the editors of Forbes
apparently did not notice is that more than a third of the cities on their list are state capitals (see Table 1). This was not a one-time lapse: cities that are home to their state's governments have been overrepresented on Forbes
's and other media-generated lists for years, without, as far as I can tell, any of these publications ever mentioning the fact. The stories that accompany these lists typically include quotes from economists and economic development experts who try to make sense of the numbers. Factors such as tax rates, regulatory burdens, region, education levels, venture capital investment, housing prices, the existence of top-tier universities, proximity to seashores and mountains, and the percentage of workers who are in "creative" fields are usually discussed. But the idea that being home to a state's politicians, lobbyists, bureaucrats, and tens of billions of dollars in tax revenues might give a city a significant advantage in garnering wider economic growth seems to be not widely held, nor even considered.
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