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Baltimore is largest American city without a single Fortune 500 company

Clashes in Baltimore over death of Freddie GrayClashes in Baltimore over death of Freddie Gray

A strong undercurrent to the troubles in Baltimore is the city’s lack of economic opportunity. Here is what Michael Fletcher wrote earlier today, about the neighborhood where Freddie Gray (the 25 year-old who died from a spinal cord injury in police custody) had lived:

More than half of the neighborhood’s households earned less than $25,000 a year, according to a 2011 Baltimore Health Department report, and more than one in five adults were out of work — double the citywide average. One in five middle school students in the neighborhood missed more than 20 days of school, as did 45 percent of the neighborhood’s high schoolers.

Here is another stat to help support the point: Baltimore does not have a single Fortune 500 company (based on last year’s list).

To broaden that out a bit: Baltimore is the only one of America’s top 30 cities (in terms of population) to not have a Fortune 500 company. Given that the average Fortune 500 company employs nearly 160,000 people — admittedly, not all at in the home city — that’s a pretty significant absence. And that doesn’t even count the ancillary economic impact (corporate taxes, local philanthropy, supporting businesses, etc.).

The next-largest city to not have a Fortune 500 company is Albuquerque (#32 in terms of population, compared to Baltimore at #26).

Overall, Maryland does have four Fortune 500 companies — but each of them are located in the Washington, D.C. suburbs of Bethesda and Silver Spring.