Sizing up the global clout of U.S. cities.

It’s not surprising that New York tops the list of the world’s most powerful global cities, based on a new ranking I developed for our sister site

But how do other U.S. cities stack up in terms of their global clout?

Rank Combined Global City Index

Economic Output (billions)

Wages and Salaries (billions)

Population (millions)
1 New York $1,276.0 (1) $444.7 (1) 18.9 (1)
2 Chicago $529.3 (3) $201.3 (3) 9.5 (3)
3 Washington, D.C. $420.7 (4) $174.7 (4) 5.3 (8)
4 Boston $311.5 (9) $135.4 (5) 4.5 (10)
5 Los Angeles $734.8 (2) $257.7 (2) 12.7 (2)
6 San Francisco $322.7 (8) $113.4 (9) 4.2 (12)
7 Houston $375.5 (5) $115.6 (8) 5.6 (6)
8 Dallas $364.7 (6) $128.7 (6) 6.1 (4)
9 Philadelphia $345.2 (7) $127.8 (7) 5.9 (5)
10 Miami $256.6 (11) $90.4 (11) 5.5 (7)


The first column of the table above shows the rankings of U.S. cities on a Combined Global City Index, which is based on five recent measures of global cities: my own Global Economic Power Index; The Economist’s Global City Competitiveness Index; A.T. Kearney’s Global Cities Index; the Global Financial Centres Index; and the McKinsey Global Institute projections of city economic output for 2025.  The remaining columns show their population size (from the American Community Survey), economic output (from the Bureau of Economic Analysis), and wages and salaries (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

New York is first across the board. Chicago ranks second in global clout, despite the fact that both its population and economy are smaller than Los Angeles. Greater Washington, D.C., is third and Boston is fourth in global economic power, punching considerably above their weight. Greater D.C. ranks eighth in population and fourth on both measures of economic size; Boston ranks tenth in population, ninth in economic output and fifth in wages and salaries. Los Angeles ranks fifth on the combined global city index,, despite having the second largest population and economy. San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Miami round out the top ten on the combined global city index.

The global economic clout of the Bos-Wash corridor is substantial, with three of the top five, and four of the top ten cities. The cities and metros that make up this mega-region appear to draw additional global clout from their proximity to one another and being part of its $2 trillion-plus combined economy, bigger than most countries. 

While the global economic power of American cities tracks their size, it is not coincident with it.

Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A toxic site in Niagara Falls, New York, seen from above.

    The Toxic 'Blank Spots' of Niagara Falls

    The region’s “chemical genies” of the early 20th century were heralded as reaching into the future to create a more abundant life for all. Instead, they deprived future generations of their health and well-being.

  2. Equity

    The Story Behind the Housing Meme That Swept the Internet

    How a popular meme about neoliberal capitalism and fast-casual architecture owned itself.

  3. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

  4. Transportation

    Europe's Intercity Bus Juggernaut Is Rolling Into the U.S.

    Flixbus is like the Uber of long-haul road travel. Could it reboot the American coach business?

  5. Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina

    A Highway to Progress, Foiled By Old Values

    A Carolinian drives along a familiar road to make sense of what exists in between the South’s most regressive and progressive narratives.