Urban Institute’s Metro Report Card

An important message for metro region watchers:

The Urban Institute has inaugurated a new reporting site –www.MetroTrends.org — to provide updates, keep tabs on how metropolitan America is faring.  The site provides up-to-date indicators of social and economic conditions and trends in metro areas nationwide, along with thoughtful commentary on what they mean for workers, families, businesses, and neighborhoods.

Here’s how the Institute describes its effort:

Our aim in launching MetroTrends is to fuel evidence-based debate about the nationwide impacts of recession and recovery, critical differences among metropolitan regions, and persistent or emerging disparities among population groups.

MetroTrends debuts with indicators from seven national data sources — the Decennial Census, American Community Survey, Current Population Survey, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, and BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics.

For each of these sources, we provide downloadable Excel files with selected indicators calculated for the nation, all metros nationwide, the top 100 metros pooled and stratified by region, and each of the top 100 metros. These downloadable files make it easy to access meaningful indicators, consistently defined over time and across metros.

In addition, MetroTrends kicks off with five expert commentaries, exploring interlocking trends in employment growth, mortgage lending and house prices, earnings and material hardship, immigration and diversity, and the well-being of children. These commentaries highlight cross-cutting challenges, dynamic conditions, and differences between metros in both current conditions and trends.

MetroTrends will be continuously updated with new data, additional datasets, and fresh commentary.  Over the next 3 months, you can expect to see: house price index data for the 4th quarter of 2009; Current Employment Statistics data through December 2009; monthly updates of LAUS data; indicators and commentary on health insurance coverage rates by metro area; and tables, graphics, and commentary focused on featured metros