by Alexander J. Gonzalez
Learn which cities are more liberal friendly or more conservative friendly…
I stumbled across an article by smartasset.com that was quite interesting. In the article, it discusses the top cities to live in whether you are liberal or conservative. They ranked these cities using ideology score, median income, unemployment rate, cost of living, upward mobility, and population growth rate. Most of this data is taken directly from the U.S. Census Bureau.
For those of you wondering, ideology score is a scale invented by the American Ideology Project that helps determine how liberal or conservative a city is, ideologically speaking. The scale starts in the middle a zero. The more conservative a city is, the higher the number is. The more liberal a city is, the lower the number goes. Cities that lean conservative will always be positive numbers, while cities that lean liberal will always be negative numbers.
The article by smartasset.com shows why these are the top cities for each ideology. However, I want to take a slightly different approach and compare the two sides with each other. Putting ideology aside, I want to see which cities would be best to live in economically speaking.
The data of the top liberal and conservative cities will be shown below for a side by side comparison. The data will also be posted individually at the end of the article for easier viewing. Keep in mind, this data is from 2016. I chose to use data before the COVID-19 pandemic, as the pandemic is responsible for changing these numbers drastically.
Side By Side Charts
At first glance, one can conclude that the median income of liberal cities is higher than conservative cities. And this is true: the average median income of the top ten liberal cities is $32,000 and the average median income of the top ten conservative cities is $28,000. However, we do have to keep in mind that most of the liberal cities have a higher minimum wage, while most of the conservative cities have a much lower minimum wage.
When the minimum wage is higher in a state or city, the cost of living will naturally rise as well, due to inflation. In laymen’s terms, if everyone is making more money, that also means everyone has to spend more money. Essentially, you wouldn’t actually be making more money if the minimum wage was raised. There’s a lot of other factors that can have an affect of the local economy, but generally speaking, that’s how it ends up working out.
The data provided also shows the cost of living in each city, which makes this a whole lot easier to compare. The average cost of living in the top ten liberal cities is 107, while the average in the top ten conservative cities is 91. When you do the math, the average person living in a conservative city would actually be considered more wealthy than the average person living in a liberal city.
For example, the average person living in in Midland, TX would have a lower salary than the average person living in Seattle, WA. However, the average person in Seattle has a much higher cost of living, while the average person in Midland has a much lower cost of living. After paying for bills and other necessities, average person in Midland, TX will end up having more money in their pockets than the average person in Seattle, WA.
When it comes to unemployment, the top ten liberal cities have an average unemployment rate of 7.03, while the top ten conservative cities have an average unemployment rate of 6.57. This isn’t a huge difference, but it is still something to take note of. Having more job opportunities is a great way to help lower unemployment. So what might be going on in these cities that affects the number of jobs available.
Corporate tax rates have a big impact on job opportunities. It is noticed that states or cities with a higher corporate tax also have less job opportunities. States or cities with a lower corporate tax rate will often have more job opportunities. Why is this? If a business has to pay more taxes, that means there’s less money to put towards employee wages, resulting in employees getting laid off and companies not wanting to hire more workers.
Liberal cities tend to have higher corporate tax rates, and higher taxes in general. This would be part of the reason why their unemployment rates are so high. Conservative cities tend to be the opposite, having lower corporate tax rates and lower unemployment in cities like Midland and Amarillo. Yet, there are still some conservative cities with a higher unemployment rate.
The conservative cities with higher unemployment than the rest (such as Springfield, IL or Lawton, OK) are also partially because of a lack of job opportunity. However, this lack of opportunity more than likely isn’t because of a high corporate tax. Notably, these cities are very “small town” with a much lower population. Big corporations, who are willing to hire hundreds of new employees, don’t have as much interest setting up shop in small town cities if there isn’t a big enough market.
These mentioned small towns also have a higher young people population as opposed to a city such a Sioux Falls, SD, which has a more older population. Cities with more young people means more people either looking for jobs, or working jobs with a high turnover rate. Citied with a more older population means more people are either retired or have a steady, long term job.
There are many factors that go into deciding what kind of city you want to live in. If economic stability is very important for you, make sure you study which cities have a healthy medium between wages and cost of living. Check to see if there are more or less job opportunities available, as that will give you insight on job stability.