Utah Surpasses California in Latest Ranking of Top Performing U.S. Cities

Deseret News, February 16

Utah smokes California in latest ranking of top performing U.S. cities

When it comes to the top performing economies in the country, Utah cities are watching California’s Bay Area heavyweights fade in the mirror as the Provo-Orem metropolitan area earned a No. 1 ranking in a new study that saw two other Utah metros earn top-10 slots.

The annual Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index has Provo-Orem regaining its nation-leading status after dropping to the No. 2 position last year following top-place rankings in 2018 and 2019.

The Santa Monica, California-based economic think tank is offering a “first look” at how cities across the country have weathered the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, assessing data sets that cover jobs, wages, high-tech growth, housing affordability and household broadband access.

In its 2021 assessment, Milken researchers noted that Utah — which netted three top tier rankings with Salt Lake City in the No. 4 spot and Ogden-Clearfield at No. 9 — was benefitting from those employees and businesses fleeing high-priced Northern California zip codes for the more affordable, and economically vibrant, climes of the Mountain West.

“The pandemic has had an outsized impact on cities where the economic effects of the current recession are exacerbated by high housing costs,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics and California Center, in a release.

“By measuring for factors such as jobs, wages, and high-tech growth, the Best-Performing Cities Index offers analysis of how metro areas have fared based on the resilience of their local economy.

“And by incorporating data designed to gauge inclusivity, it provides important insights into how cities will be prepared to meet challenges and opportunities for future growth post-pandemic.”

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City jumped 21 places over its 2020 ranking and earned accolades for its business diversity, high wages and reliable economic expansion.

“The (Salt Lake) region has experienced consistent employment growth — 3% growth for one year (11th in the country) and 15.5% for five years (28th in the country) — spanning a range of sectors.

“Most notably, Salt Lake City is home to a regional tech, finance and professional services hub.”

High-paying non-tech jobs also helped fuel the state’s capital city to its No. 4 ranking, including “concentrations of middle-skill jobs in medical supply and service industry machinery manufacturing, which pay average annual salaries of $58,770 and $63,770 respectively.”


Read the full Desert News article HERE.

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