14 October 2016

Is Seattle The Most Dynamic Economy in the US?

The average company in the S&P 50 was founded in 1930 and is worth $209.7 billion. 86 years old, it has created about $2.5 billion a year in stock value since its founding.

The regions of the country are very different though. Based just on total valuation, the top three regions are the Bay Area, New York, and Seattle.

New York metro area has the most companies in this list: 10 out of 50. They are more than a century old, though; the average founding date is 1899.

Second on this list is the Bay Area with 9. The average founding date here is 1955.

This plays into a simple measure of dynamics. Two companies might each be worth $100 billion but the one that is only a decade old is more dynamic than the one that is a century old.

The ten companies around New York are worth a combined $1,955.4 billion. The average value they've created per year since their founding is $3.2 billion.

The nine companies in the Bay Area are worth a combined $2,641.4 billion. Not only are they worth more on average, they've created far more value per year: $10.6 billion.

Seattle is third on the list of metro areas for valuation of S&P 50 firms even though it has only 2 on the list. Microsoft and Amazon are worth a combined $836.6 billion and - both relatively young firms - have created an average of $14.3 billion per year, making it the most dynamic region in the country by this measure.

The average age of New York's top companies is 117 years old. The Bay Area is 61. Seattle? Just 32, which is a pretty stark contrast to Dallas, which also has two companies on the list (Exxon and AT&T), but have an average age of 143 years.

I think we do a poor job of tracking wealth creation. Median and average wages matter but if one person makes $100,000 a year and gets no uptick in wealth from her share of the company and another makes $90,000 a year but gets $20,000 in extra wealth because of an uptick in stock, the second person arguably has a more valuable job. A more comprehensive measurement of dynamic (one that, for instance, actually included the S&P 500 at a minimum) might be a nice complement to wage information for an area. And it might even make the mediocre data on wage growth seem impressive.

Companies included on New York's list:
JPMorgan Chase
Verizon Communications

On Bay Area's list:
Alphabet (Google)
Wells Fargo

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