Provo is best-performing economy among big U.S. cities

Provo is best-performing economy among big U.S. cities (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — The Provo area was ranked as best-performing economy among large U.S. metro areas in 2017, according to the Milken Institute.

The new ranking comes as Florida and other areas in the South rise in favorability, while California dwindles.

“You saw that some of the coastal metro areas driven by technology are beginning to slow slightly and you’re seeing more growth in Raleigh and Dallas, which have competitive business climates and very highly educated work forces,” says Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken’s director of regional economics research.

USA Today reports that California suffers from climbing business costs, such as labor and rent., while cities like Raleigh and Dallas are prospering from lower expenses and more business-friendly environments.

While California still has four of the top 25 metro areas in economic strength, that number has fallen from six in 2016.

The Milken Institute ranked cities based on job growth during the 12 months ending last August and over the past six years. Cities were also ranked by wage growth and high-tech output in recent years.

Best-performing large metro areas:

  1. Provo, Utah — This area has become a technology hotbed, with 5,500 jobs added from 2011 to 2016. The hub is anchored by Adobe's digital marketing output, which is the employer for more than 1,200 people. The company stated it would build a second facility next door in 2017, which would house another 1,260 workers. Brigham Young University also provides a large pipeline of workers and start-ups. The university is responsible for spawning several tech ventures, such as the software firm Qualtrics, which is valued at $2.5 billion.
  2. Raleigh, North Carolina — North Carolina State University is a centerpiece of the Research Triangle, and is home to more than 75 research centers that partner with businesses, non-profits, and government agencies in the area. SAS, a software firm that came out the university system, announced last year new artificial intelligence capabilities. In the past five years, the software publishing industry has added 2,500 jobs. In that period, computer and electronics manufacturing doubled its workforce to 11,900. Many businesses are attracted by low costs. In May, Credit Suisse announced it would create 1,200 jobs in Raleigh over the next several years.
  3. Dallas, Texas — For a long time this area has been a popular headquarters location for companies like Exxon Mobil, AT&T, and Southwest Airlines. The region added more than 50,000 high-skilled jobs from 2011 to 2016 in the professional, scientific, and technical sectors. The region's population has also exploded, with 58,600 more people arriving instead of leaving in 2016. As a result, housing costs have risen. Texas Instruments has benefited from growing demand for automotive semiconductor chips.

Biggest gainers:

  1. Palm Bay-Melbourne, Florida —This area ranks 63, advancing 90 spots since 2016. It is growing as a retirement haven, and due to the Patrick Air Force Base, which has spawned a number of defense contractors that are benefiting from increased spending.
  2. Olympia, Washington — This city moved forward 74 spots to #39. Fort Lewis Army base is generating a bustling defense economy. The region is also a lower-cost bedroom community for the tech-savvy Seattle area and Tacoma, which contains a growing seaport.
  3. Hickory, North Carolina — Hickory rose 64 places to 103. It was once a textile and furniture manufacturing center, but the area has revived as a center for cloud computing and data centers for giants like Apple and Google. Many retirees are also discovering the area.

Biggest decliners:

  1. Bakersfield, California — This city fell from 59 to 101. It is one of the largest oil producing counties, and was hit by the crude downturn a few years ago. Employment still has not recovered fully.
  2. Wilmington, Delaware — Wilmington fell 73 spots to 166. This financial hub was buoyed by the recovering banking sector several years ago, but that steam has since wore off. Heavy regulations restrict traffic at its port.
  3. Laredo, Texas — The city of Laredo fell from 55 to 114. Similar to Bakersfield, the area was crippled by the oil industry downturn a few years ago.
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