Provo, Raleigh, Dallas Top Best Performing Cities List

The annual Milken Institute analysis demonstrates the impact of policymaking on jobs, wages, technology development, and other measures in both large and small cities across the U.S.

Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities IndexProvo-Orem, UT, with its robust high-tech sector and broad-based job and wage growth, is the Best-Performing City in the United States, according to the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities 2017 Index. Raleigh, NC, with its comparatively low business costs and thriving research and development-driven industries ranked second in the nation. Dallas, which has added more than 50,000 high-skill professional, scientific and technical industry jobs in the last five years, came in third.

Overall, six Florida and four California cities ranked among the top-25 Best-Performing Cities (Large Cities/Metropolitan Areas). California’s Inland Empire (Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario) jumped 24 places and made the top 20 for the first time in a decade. Also posting double-digit gains were the Florida regions of Sarasota-Bradenton, West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, and Tampa-St. Petersburg.

Milken large cities ranking
Source: Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index

San Jose, CA, last year’s top city, is showing signs of slowing and dropped 10 places to #11 overall.

The Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index has been published annually since 1999. The index uses fact-based metrics in nine categories to evaluate the relative growth of large and small metropolitan areas. Metrics include growth in jobs, wages and salaries, and technology output over time. The index also measures high-tech fields whose concentrations in a metropolitan area are higher than the national average.

Milken small cities ranking
Source: Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index

Key findings from this year’s index include:

  • High-tech industries continue to be important economic drivers in regional economies across the country. As rising wages and rents raised the cost of doing business in cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose, some firms chose to relocate or expand away from these regions, distributing opportunities to other parts of the U.S.
  • A large share of the top gainers this year have defense and/or health care/medical sectors as their anchor industries. About one-third of these metros are college towns and/or manufacturing.
  • Florida is home to six of the metros with the largest improvements in the ranking. The sunshine state is home to retiree havens and medical hubs.

Utah Cities, Large And Small

“Provo-Orem, UT outperformed all other metros by a wide margin,” said Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken Institute director of regional economic research. “Home to Brigham Young University (BYU) and a growing technology and entrepreneurial community, the region is adding to its workforce and reaping the rewards of a vibrant industry on the broader economy.”

Salt Lake City also ranked among the top 10 large cities, while St. George, UT ranked second among Best-Performing Small Cities, making three Utah communities in the top tier of more than 400 regions evaluated.

“Utah’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and business-friendly environment allow companies to grow in communities big and small,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert of Utah. “As we invest in our skilled workforce and diverse economy, we continue to improve job opportunities and quality of life for residents statewide.”

The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities index provides an objective benchmark for examining which regional strategies are succeeding.

“Metropolitan areas are crucial drivers of growth in the American economy, taking different paths to prosperity depending on their industry mix, policy choices, and available resources. While some parts of the country are thriving, others are falling behind,” explained Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute’s Center for Regional Economics. “Our goal is to help businesses, investors, industry associations, development agencies, government officials, academics, and public-policy groups monitor and evaluate how well their region is adapting to and planning for both current and future economic trends.”

The full report, including tables with all 401 large and small regions evaluated, is available online.