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The Leading Pacific States Metros for Economic and Workforce Growth

Area Development ranks the Top MSAs in the Pacific states for economic and workforce growth based on the overall results from our Leading Locations for 2012 study.

August 2012
Top 7 Pacific Cities

    • City/MSA
    • State
    • Population
    • Overall
    • 1.
    • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
    • CA
    • 1,836,911
    • 7
    • San Jose, CA There's certainly a lot of economic success growing in Silicon Valley. It's not that the San Jose metropolitan area avoided the recent economic downturn, because employment took a significant hit. But the rebound has been phenomenal, with net employment up by more than 26,000 in just the past year. Some of those people are working for such companies as health-tech's SEA Medical Systems and videoconferencing vendor Polycom, which in 2012 opened headquarters there. Some are working in the green economy, which accounts for 4,000-plus local jobs. More jobs will arrive soon to man the regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, whose local opening could be seen as a nod to the innovation that happens just about every hour of every day in the San Jose area.

      Indeed, knowledge-based technology is what really put the San Jose area on the map. More than 6,000 tech companies provide work for more than a quarter million people, and the headquarters here are a veritable who's who in technology, from Apple to Google to Yahoo to Hewlett-Packard to Cisco to eBay. IBM and Hitachi are big employers, too. With all of that innovating going on, it's hardly surprising that San Jose tops the nation in per capita GDP.
    • 2.
    • Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro
    • OR-WA
    • 2,226,009
    • 35
    • Portland, ORUnemployment spiked higher than the national average in Portland during the recent recession, but jobs have been roaring back, especially in the past year. It helps to have a diverse economy. The Portland area is big in high-tech, with "Silicon Forest" as one of its nicknames and some 1,200 technology firms led by top employer Intel. The reputation is well-earned, considering that the area has one of the highest concentrations of tech companies on the West Coast. Software is an up-and-coming cluster, and the area's leadership in green buildings makes it a natural for clean tech and renewable energy. And talk about healthy-there are more than 700 athletic and outdoor industry companies, including the headquarters of Nike and Columbia Sportswear as well as the North American headquarters of Adidas.

      Numerous developments are bringing new jobs, including a $75 million upgrade by semiconductor maker Maxim Integrated Products and a Consumer Cellular call center that could create 650 jobs. Helping to attract business is an enviable quality of life marked by fitness and recreation (an unusually high number of health clubs and yoga centers), local food (more farm markets near the city center than most other cities), and bicycling (a leader in the percentage of people who bike to work), to name a few of its well-known attributes.
    • 3.
    • Corvallis
    • OR
    • 85,579
    • 62
    • 4.
    • Kennewick-Pasco-Richland
    • WA
    • 253,340
    • 76
    • Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WAThis part of Washington State placed 5th among the Top 25 Mid-Size Cities in "Prime Workforce Growth" and 10th among this same group of cities for its strong "Recession-Busting" indicators. The so-called "Tri-Cities" also placed 4th overall among Area Development's Top 10 Pacific Cities.

      On the surface, the Tri-Cities seem almost laid back, with stunning scenery, 300-plus days of sunshine a year, and most of Washington's highly regarded, $3 billion wine business. However, amid that science and technology thrive, led in terms of employee count by the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and DOE contractors such as CH2M Hill Hanford Group, Bechtel National, Mission Support Alliance, and Washington River Protection Solutions. ConAgra Foods, meanwhile, processes frozen potatoes in the area, and Tyson Foods.
    • 5.
    • Fairbanks
    • AK
    • 97,581
    • 80
    • 6.
    • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
    • WA
    • 3,439,809
    • 120
    • Portland, ORAs is the case along much of the West Coast, Seattle is still putting things back together following the Great Recession. But its job growth in the past year is eighth-best in the nation, with tens of thousands more people working this past spring than a year earlier. The good news crosses the Seattle area's multiple industry clusters, with forecasters expecting thousands of jobs at Boeing, hundreds at Google and Amazon, and still more at such technology companies as HTC and HCL Technologies.

      Boeing leads the thriving aerospace sector (and the local payroll roster as a whole), with some 75,000 employees; it added 7,000 in the past year or so, local observers report. The Seattle area is also the nation's biggest software publishing capital, home to Microsoft and such recognizable Internet names as Amazon and Expedia. More than 30,000 people work in clean tech industries, and the region is the nation's fifth-busiest life sciences hub. Exports drive thousands of local jobs, as Seattle is the closest seaport to both Asia and Alaska. Quality of life is a major calling card here, too-the region is popular among those who love the outdoors and the area's mountain ranges, and it leads the nation in arts per capita. As for its reputation for rain? Truth is, they get more rain in Chicago and New York.
    • 7.
    • Anchorage
    • AK
    • 380,821
    • 131

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