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Milken Institute's Annual Review of U.S. Best-Performing Cities: Tech Is Back, and So Are Some Traditional Manufacturing Towns

San Jose Knows the Way -- to No. 1.

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/17/13 -- The Milken Institute's annual index of Best-Performing Cities indicates that tech is back, especially in the world's best-known hub of innovation.

The United States' best-performing metro area is San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. Other cities with strong exposure to technological innovation scored high in the new ranking: Austin, Texas (No. 2, up from fourth place); Raleigh, N.C. (No. 3, up from No. 14); the Washington, D.C., metro (No. 5 from No. 17); and Cambridge, Mass. (No. 8 from No. 12).

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., vaulted 50 spots from last year to No. 1, a position it last held on the index in 2001. San Jose's recovery has spread through the region's economy: For each job added in the tech sector, five jobs are created in other industries. For example, Apple has an estimated 34,000 employees in the metro area but is responsible for another 170,000 jobs in the region.

"People expect tech to be one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy, and it was," says Ross DeVol, chief research officer of the Milken Institute and one of the report's authors. "A perhaps less expected highlight of this year's rankings is how the national resurgence in manufacturing is reflected in the greatly improved fortune of local economies, especially in the upper Midwest."

Among this year's biggest gainers in large metros is Holland-Grand Haven, Mich., leaping 108 places to No. 40. Other Midwestern hotspots include Minneapolis-St. Paul; Gary, Ind.; Warren, Mich.; and Indianapolis. Each city moved up at least 70 spots in this year's index.

The Best-Performing Cities index includes measures of job, wage, and technology performance to rank the nation's 200 large metropolitan areas and 179 smaller metros. Unlike other "best places" rankings, it does not use quality-of-life metrics, such as commute times or housing costs. In the Institute's index, employment growth is weighted most heavily due to its critical importance to community vitality. Wage and salary growth measures the quality of jobs created and sustained.

Among the report's findings:

  • Texas metros continue to be strong -- but did not dominate as in recent years. There were seven Texas cities in the Top 25 (including No. 2 Austin), as opposed to nine last year and 11 two years ago. Softness in natural gas prices and the wind-down of the military base consolidation program are having an impact on the Lone Star economy.
  • Cities in Utah ranked high: Salt Lake is No. 6 in large metros, the same as the year before. Provo is No. 7, up from No. 9. Meanwhile, Logan, Utah, is the No. 1 small metro two years in a row.
  • For New York, N.Y., the economic aftershocks of the financial crisis are fast receding. At No. 11 on the top cities list, the metro moved up 64 places from the year before, in part based on a recent surge in wage and salary growth. As the financial industry stabilizes, other sectors are thriving: Nearly 500 start-ups have been funded since 2006, and film production has grown 31 percent over the past five years.
  • The metro area around our nation's capital continues to boom, with Washington and its suburbs rising 12 spots to No. 5 among large cities. Anchored by steady federal spending, the metro boasted strong growth in high-tech output.

For a copy of the complete report, "Best-Performing Cities 2012: Where America's Jobs Are Created and Sustained," or to interview authors Ross C. DeVol, Armen Bedroussian, and Yu Liu, please contact:

Data for all metros is available on the Institute's Best-Performing Cities interactive website, where you may also download the report:

About the Milken Institute
A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, the Milken Institute believes in the power of capital markets to solve urgent social and economic challenges. Its mission is to improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance health.

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