The electorate for the upcoming election will be the most racially diverse in U.S. history. Polling data and election coverage have shown an increasingly polarized America, and political analysts have struggled to identify who the average American is.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed a range of social and economic data for all 381 U.S. metro areas in order to determine the most uniquely American cities. We indexed 28 measures based on race, income, educational attainment, and the economy to identify which U.S. cities most closely resemble America as a whole. The Nashville, Tennessee metro area was found to be the most American city.
Our immediate finding was that no city perfectly matches the exact racial composition of the United States. Of the country’s population, 62.8% identify as white, 16.9% as Hispanic and Latino, 12.2% as black or African American, 4.9% as Asian, and 0.7% as American Indian. Race tends to cluster geographically, and the most diverse metro areas consist of multitudes of ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods. The largest cities, with room for such neighborhoods, tend to have the most diverse racial composition.
Likewise, the local economies that most closely resemble the national economy tend to be large, with diverse industrial composition. Across the country, 23.0% of the workforce is employed in educational, health, and social services, 11.5% in retail trade, 11.1% in professional and scientific occupations, and 10.3% in manufacturing, among other industries A number of these cities are within less than a percentage point of the national workforce composition.
America’s founding documents were penned in Philadelphia nearly 250 years ago, and today, the metro area is a microcosm of the nation as a whole in many ways. The shares of the city’s workforce employed in several industries, including construction, public administration, and information, are within a percentage point of the corresponding national shares. Certain health patterns in Philadelphia also closely mirror national trends. For example, roughly 27% of metro area adults are obese, exactly the same as the national obesity rate.
To identify the most American cities, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of 28 measures. These included racial composition, household income, poverty, health insurance coverage, home values, and homeownership rates. All these measures came from the 2014 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, we reviewed the unemployment rate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is as of May 2016. Other measures included employment composition, also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the obesity rate, which came from County Health Rankings. The index values were based off of their similarity to the corresponding national figures.