Research - JANUARY 17, 2018

Utah metropolitan city comes in first as best-performing city in U.S.

by Jody Barhanovich

With its robust high-tech sector and broad-based job and wage growth, Provo-Orem, Utah is the best-performing city in the United States, according to the Milken Institute's Best-Performing Cities 2017 Index.

“Provo-Orem, Utah, outperformed all other metros by a wide margin,” said Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken Institute director of regional economic research. “Home to Brigham Young University 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, Utah, ranked second among best-performing small cities, making three Utah communities in the top tier of more than 400 regions evaluated.

Raleigh, N.C., 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. 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.

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

The best-performing cities rankings (large cities/metropolitan areas) include:

1. Provo-Orem, UT 14. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
2. Raleigh, NC 15. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
3. Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX 16.  Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA
4. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA 17. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
5. Fort Collins, CO 18. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL
6. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 19. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
7. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 20. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
8. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 21. Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL
9. Austin-Round Rock, TX 22. Charleston-North Charleston, SC
10. Salt Lake City, UT 23. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
11. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 24. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
12. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, FL 25. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO
13. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC


The best-performing cities rankings (small cities/metropolitan areas) include:

1. Bend-Redmond, OR 6. Elkhart-Goshen, IN
2. St. George, UT 7. Yuba City, CA
3. Gainesville, GA 8. Bellingham, WA
4. San Rafael, CA 9. Columbus, IN
5. Wenatchee, WA 10. Auburn-Opelika, AL

“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,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute’s Center for Regional Economics. “While some parts of the country are thriving, others are falling behind. 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, can be found here.


Forgot your username or password?

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to personalize your user experience on our site and perform site analytics. By clicking on “I accept”, you consent to our Privacy Policy.