Business of the Super Bowl 2012

Super Bowl Smackdown: Why Boston is Best


This is so unfair. On the eve of the Super Bowl I get to make the case for Boston's economy being better than New York's.

New England Patriot fans
Photo: Boston Globe via Getty Images

I say its unfair because my "opponent" and colleague Brian Shactman has to defend our adopted city of New York. Both he and I are Massachusetts natives, and while you can take the kids out of Boston you can't take the rabid Boston sports fan out of the kids. So, I have the home field advantage over Brian today.

My live shots are in Gillette stadium. Its making me giddy to stand on the field where All-Pros including Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Vince Wilfork have dominated this year. But I am really here to talk business and the local economy.

The Bay State's employment levels are not back to pre-recession levels and the housing slump is in its sixth year, still you can find plenty to be giddy about in Massachusetts besides the Pats and the Bruins defense of the Stanley Cup.

First, Bostonians are more productive. The city's $290 billion economy is only a quarter of the size of New York City's $1.1 trillion economy but on a per capita basis Boston's 617,594 residents generate nearly $470,000 each in economic output. That dwarfs the $134,544 in per capita output generated by the Big Apple's more the 8.1 million inhabitants.

Second, you can make the case Boston's economy is more diversified than New York City's.

Super Bowl Economies: Boston vs New York

The Big Apple is so closely tied to Wall Street, it goes as the market does, or more likely as Wall Street compensation goes.

Boston on the other hand has a high tech corridor along Route 128 that is second only to Silicon Valley. The city's new Innovation District on the South Boston waterfront houses over 100 high tech start ups.

Beantown is also home to over 400 biotech companies that pay on average, $95,658 in salary a year to the more than 46,000 workers in the industry, according to the industry trade group MassBio.

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Feeding the tech and biotech industries, tens of colleges and universities including two of the nation's finest, Harvard and MIT. These schools have become incubators for the skilled, high paying jobs the U.S. economy needs to develop to remain competitive in the global economy.

In fact, the Massachusetts workforce is made to compete on this level. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center say It is the country's most educated with 43.9 percent of its residents holding a bachelor's degree or higher.

Like New York, financial services play a big role in the local economy. Boston is home the mutual fund giants Fidelity Investments and Putnam. Twelve Fortune 500 companies including EMC and Staples call Boston home, and if you are ill its hospitals are among the world's finest.

Speaking to the dynamism of private industry in the Bay State, unlike most states where the government is the second or third largest employer, in Massachusetts it ranks sixth.

Boston is no New York, and those of us who cherish the city's impossible to imitate accents, and impossible to replace treasures like Fenway Park and the Esplanade are glad for that. Having transformed itself from an economy dependent on textiles and manufacturing, Boston's my bet for a better place to do business.


You can follow Mary Thompson on Twitter @MThompsonCNBC