Texas metros, led by number one Austin, claim four of the top five spots in the 2009 Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners Best-Performing Cities Index.
Leaders in this year's index, which ranks U.S. metros based on their ability to create and sustain jobs, are all metros that succeeded in avoiding the worst of economic declines driven by falling housing markets and job losses in manufacturing and global trade. The metro experiencing the largest gain was Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut, which moved up a remarkable 101 spots to take 48th place.
Regional economic factors also strongly influenced the rankings this year, with the oil and gas sector, technology, and alternative energy providing stability among metros in Texas, North Carolina, Washington, and Louisiana, which also benefited from low dependence on housing/construction. Austin in particular has been helped by its strong tech industry. It is the first metro to ever be ranked number one twice on the index, the last time being in 2000.
"Best performing' sometimes means retaining what you have," said Ross DeVol, director of Regional Economics and lead author of the report. "In a period of recession, the index highlights metros that have adapted to weather the storm. As we move forward in a recovery that still lacks jobs, metros will be further tested in their ability to sustain themselves."
The biggest decliners (including multiple cities in Florida and California) continue to experience the fallout from the housing meltdown, which has caused spillover into the construction sector. Michigan metros are mired among the nation's weakest performers, with heavy losses in durable goods manufacturing and the ailing U.S. automotive industry.
The 2009 top 10 performers (with 2008 rankings) of the 200 largest metros:
1. Austin-Round Rock, TX (4)
2. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX (13)
3. Salt Lake City, UT (3)
4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX (7)
5. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX (16)
6. Durham, NC (21)
7. Olympia, WA (9)
8. Huntsville, AL (5)
9. Lafayette, LA (14)
10. Raleigh-Cary, NC (2)