The Milken Institute (yes, run by that Milken) just published its 2008 Best Performing Cities Report. Subtitled, “Where America’s jobs are created and sustained”, this report considers just that. It’s rankings are based entirely on figures in three categories: job growth (short and long term), wage growth, and the amount of high tech jobs.
This report really hits home for the Midwest, which did, well, pretty awful. Here is how the cities I track stack up:
|2008 Rank||City||2007 Rank|
The rank is out of the top 200 areas by population. Milken does do one unusual thing in that for those metro areas that have what are called “Metropolitan Divisions”, it treated all of them as separate cities. I picked the core county MD to rank. For example, Chicago has three MD’s, and the 160 rank is for the core Chicago MD, not the Gary one or the Lake County one.
The big ah-ah is that even the Midwest’s shining lights have nothing to write home about on the jobs front. There was one MSA, Des Moines, which appears to be rocking and rolling, which came in at #25, but since it is smaller than one million in population, I usually don’t cover it here. (Peoria also put in a solid showing at #43).
These stats also confirm the success trends indicated by the Census estimates. The top five places here are the top five in population, showing the virtuous circle between jobs and population. I had previously mentioned how Louisville appeared to hit a population inflection point and had started joining the traditional Midwest top four, and the jobs numbers back that story up.
Indy and KC do particularly well, with a 50 rank gap between them and the next group. Still, they badly trail peer cities around the country like Austin (#4), San Antonio (#15), Nashville (#22), and Portland (#28).
There is a huge gap between the top five and the rest. Note, for example, that the top five all boosted their scores this year, sometimes significantly. The rest of the metros either stagnated or declined. There really are two Midwests going on when it comes to these large cities.
Chicago continues to show data that belies the common story of its success. While the city of Chicago, especially the central core, is indisputably prosperous and booming, the metro region as a whole is trailing the Midwest leaders. It has high levels of domestic outmigration and, as this report indicates, is lagging badly on the jobs front.
Cleveland and Detroit bringing up the rear should come as no surprise to anyone.
This report should be another bucket of cold water in the face to the Midwest’s cities. Other than Des Moines, even the best of them are far from top performers. Significant improvement is needed.