PwC's Cities of Opportunity 7: U.S. Cities Slipping in Race for Global Competitiveness

U.S. cities are demonstrating strength in leading economic and social indicators, but are also revealing dimensions where they are falling behind as engines of global competition and urban well-being, according to PwC’s (No. 5 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) report Cities of Opportunity 7. The report provides an in-depth benchmark of the social and economic health of 30 of the world’s leading centers for business and commerce by measuring their performance against 10 indicators. Four U.S. cities—New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles—were included in the report.

In this seventh edition of the study, London claims the top spot due to its strong showing across the leading indicators, and is followed by Singapore, Toronto, Paris and Amsterdam. Cities were assessed based on data from 2014-2015, with findings from the study underscoring a key premise: city success requires balanced social and economic strengths, which finds high scores in the human elements of urban life. While compiled before the recent UK referendum vote to leave the EU, detail in the report’s wide ranging measurements gives an early indication to its competitors of both London’s international strengths and areas it may have to compete harder on post Brexit.

The full ranking and a copy of the full report are available at

“U.S. cities demonstrate a wide range of positive attributes and remain at the top of several indicators as engines of world growth, but they’re also trending downward and losing some ground,” said Mitch Roschelle, PwC’s Leader of Real Estate Research. “In order to change the trajectory, U.S. cities must understand their own strengths and weaknesses, identities and rhythms in relation to others in order to remain attractive to people and businesses, and to remain globally competitive.”

Snapshot of U.S. Cities

Cities of Opportunity 7 takes a comprehensive look at four major U.S. cities.

New York: 6th Overall

The Big Apple ranks in the top 10 in 7 of our 10 indicators, and finishes #1 (tied with Paris) in demographics and livability, #2 in economic clout, and #3 in technology readiness (tied with Amsterdam), although improvements in sustainability and the natural environment, affordability and health, safety and security are needed.

San Francisco: 8th Overall

San Francisco remains in the top 10 overall and in 6 of the 10 indicators. In addition, it performs in the top five in four indicators: intellectual capital and innovation (#2), economic clout (#4), transportation and infrastructure (#5) and demographics and livability (#5). The City by the Bay registers its lowest rankings in this report in the city gateway indicator (#19), which measures access to world travel, and cost (#18).

Chicago: 13th Overall (tied with Los Angeles)

The Windy City ranks in the top 10 in four of our 10 indicators: 6th in transportation and infrastructure, 7thin cost, 9th in demographics and livability and 10th in intellectual capital and innovation (tied with Stockholm). The city just misses the top 10 in two other indicators, finishing #11 in sustainability and the natural environment and #11 in ease of doing business.

Los Angeles: 13th Overall (tied with Chicago)

The City of Angels remains in the top half of the rankings, obtaining top 10 rankings in four of 10 indicators, and a top five spot in both demographics and livability (#4) and cost (#3). Its lowest ranked indicator, city gateway, just avoided falling into the bottom 10 by finishing #20.

Cities of Opportunity 7 Snapshot

The top three cities in each ‘Cities of Opportunity’ indicator are:

  • Intellectual capital and innovation: London, San Francisco, Paris
  • Technology readiness: Singapore, London, Amsterdam and New York (tied for third)
  • City gateway: London, Paris, Beijing
  • Transportation and Infrastructure: Singapore, Dubai, Stockholm
  • Health, safety and security: Tokyo, Toronto, Sydney
  • Sustainability and the natural environment: Stockholm and Sydney (tied for first), Seoul and Toronto (tied for third)
  • Demographics and liveability: New York and Paris (tied for first), London
  • Economic clout: London, New York, Beijing
  • Ease of doing business: Singapore, Hong Kong, London
  • Cost: Johannesburg, Toronto, Los Angeles

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