Curb Your Enthusiasm: Why Detroit's #16 Spot on a New Tech Jobs Growth List Is 'Meh'

National media lists that include Detroit -- anywhere, for any reason -- trigger a Pavlovian reflex from city boosters. Their reaction brings to mind Sally Field:

They list us! They really list us! 

That type of frothing flows at Curbed Detroit, where editor Robin Runyan reports that "Detroit has been named as the 16th fastest growing tech town by job search site Ziprecruiter."

She notes that Detroit "came in ahead of Tampa" -- not exactly a potential branding slogan. Neither is "We're #16!" as she posts atop a Facebook link to her article, headlined "Detroit cracks the list of fastest growing tech towns in the U.S."


Runyan writes:

The job search engine looked through their database of 8 million jobs to capture year over year growth in tech jobs by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the top jobs in tech by MSA. It then ranked the top 20 areas. . . .

Detroit’s median rent [$750] and home price [$57,000] are well below every other city on the list,

More than 300 Facebook followers share Runyan's link. On Twitter, it's retweeted 25 times directly and also shared in new tweets by the editor-publisher of Crain's Detroit Business, Michigan's Black Chamber of Commerce (based downtown) and a rah-rah feed called Back to Detroit (where it's pinned atop the timeline).

We certainly welcome the recruiting site's claim of 81-percent tech job growth here from 2016 to 2017. But we curb our enthusiasm this time -- and not just because "we're #16!" seems self-parodying (intentionally, we assume).

Stock image from Deposit Photos

Ranking an established technology hub alongside emerging ones in terms of job growth and affordability is misleading meaningless. It's blind boosterism to cheer these dubious distinctions:

► Detroit is 16th in "job growth for engineering, software and IT roles."

► It comes in below Albany, N,Y.; Huntsville, Ala., Thousand Oaks, Calif., Jacksonville, Orlando, Nashville, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and seven others.  

But hey, we outrank Providence, R.I, and Tampa, so woo-hoo. [OK, that's cherry-picking. We're also ahead of Chicago and Seattle, which is sweet indeed.]

We get the hunger for comeback city confirmation, but prefer celebrating meaningful achievements and distinctions.

Going ga-ga over every listicle (or ice cream flavor promotion) risks seeming provincial and channeling the 1984 best actress Oscar winner for "Places in the Heart."

The 20-city list is here.

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