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Best-Performing Cities 2008

Over the past decade, the Milken Institute has regularly analyzed U.S. metropolitan areas to determine which cities are most successful at creating and sustaining jobs. In the Milken Institute and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners' Best-Performing Cities 2008 index , we see a continuation of trends that were already becoming evident in last year's figures, along with new developments that are affecting the outlook for communities across the country.
Highlights of the report:
All three of Utah's largest metros ranked among the nation's top twenty-five performers. In fact, Utah claimed two of the top three spots in the index, and Provo-Orem emerged as the best-performing city of 2008. Two other states, North Carolina and Washington, placed three metros among the top twenty-five. Most of these cities witnessed strong growth in their technology industries. All the technology centers in the top echelon improved their ranking from last year. South Carolina was the only other state with more than one metro in the top twenty-five.

Texas performed particularly well in the 2008 index, with six cities placing in the top twenty-five large metros (more than any other state). Thanks to its heavy concentration of oil and gas operations, Texas was a clear beneficiary of rising energy prices and renewed activity in the industry. Additionally, several Texas metros received a boost from continued strength in technology hardware and services. While the housing downturn has been severe in states such as Florida, California, Arizona, and Nevada, Texas has not experienced a similar decline.

The South had sixteen metros among the top twenty-five in the nation, surpassing last year's performance by one despite the falloff experienced in Florida. The West had eight metros in the top tier. (Only one California metro, Bakersfield, remains on the list.)

There was a ray of good news for the heartland: Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa, cracked the top twenty-five, a change from last year's index, in which no metros from the Midwest made the list. Unlike most other Midwest metros, Des Moines has produced growth in professional services, with financial services as the primary engine of its job creation.

At the other end of the spectrum, nine Midwest metros finished in the bottom ten of the 200 largest metros in the country-and all are in Michigan or Ohio. The Northeast again failed to place a single city in the top twenty-five this year. Its best-ranked metro, Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey, placed 62nd overall.

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