Powered by outstanding job growth, Raleigh-Cary has seized the No. 2 spot in the latest edition of the Milken Institute's Best-Performing Cities index. It is joined at the top of the 2008 rankings by other growing metro areas in Utah, Texas, Washington, Alabama and the Carolinas.
The Raleigh-Cary MSA made an impressive move from tenth place in 2007 to its No. 2 ranking this year. In the job growth category, Raleigh-Cary ranked No. 1 in 2008 with 3.56% job growth from March 2007 to March 2008. This was a move up from the No. 2 spot in 2007.
Several metros that once dominated the rankings fell due to a sharp downturn in their housing and construction markets; locations in Florida and California took particularly sharp hits. Cities that depend on industry and manufacturing also continue to show a steady long-term decline. The lowest performers on this year's index once again come from the industrial Midwest, with nine of the lowest-ranked cities found in Michigan or Ohio.
Among the nation's 200 largest metros, these are the top 10 performers of 2008 (with their 2007 rankings in parentheses):
1. Provo-Orem, Utah (8)
2. Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina (10)
3. Salt Lake City, Utah (18)
4. Austin-Round Rock, Texas (20)
5. Huntsville, Alabama (16)
6. Wilmington, North Carolina (2)
7. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas (7)
8. Tacoma, Washington (50)
9. Olympia, Washington (37 in the 2007 ranking of small metros)
10. Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina (12)
Each year, the Best-Performing Cities index ranks U.S. metros based on economic growth. It includes both long-term and short-term measurements of employment and salary growth, plus indicators of high-tech output.