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National service can bring us together as a nation

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10.05.2019

The following column is adapted from Fareed Zakaria’s commencement address at Ohio State University on May 5, 2019.

It’s graduation season in America and a good time to be leaving college and looking for a job. Despite this week’s stock market tremors, the U.S. economy is on solid footing. Now in its 120th month of expansion, the economy shows few signs of bubbles about to burst. Unemployment is way down, inflation is contained, wages are finally moving up, and, perhaps most significantly, productivity is up. Some of these trends might prove ephemeral, but there is no denying that economic indicators are firmly positive.

These good numbers, however, are unlikely to change another set of numbers regarding the geography of growth. I was honored to be the commencement speaker at Ohio State University last weekend, and I predicted that graduates looking for a job would get one — in a city.

Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution has calculated that over the past decade, the 53 largest American metro areas have accounted for 71 percent of all population growth, two-thirds of all employment growth and a staggering three-quarters of all economic growth. In fact, half of all job growth in the United States took place in just 20 cities.

Meanwhile, small towns and rural America have lost residents and contributed barely anything to economic growth. The numbers........

© Washington Post