SANTA MONICA (CNS) - For the third consecutive year, Provo-Orem, Utah, was ranked as the best-performing large municipal area in the country in a report released Tuesday by the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute think tank, while Idaho Falls, Idaho, was named the best performing small city.
The annual Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index ranks municipalities and municipal areas based on a series of criteria, assessing their "effectiveness at leveraging their resources to promote economic growth and provide their residents with access to the essential services and infrastructure needed for success." Among the criteria are job creation, wage growth and the output of the high-tech sector, along with housing affordability and broadband access.
"This year's report shows that U.S. cities continue to drive the nation's growth despite the pressures created by COVID-19," Maggie Switek, director of regional economics in the Milken Institute's Research Department, said in a statement. "Three years after the onset of the pandemic, cities are still the main centers of the nation's economic activity. In 2021, the metropolitan areas included in the BPC rankings generated 89% of the U.S. gross domestic product and were home to 86.3% of the country's population."
The report notes that the data reviewed for the rankings was primarily from 2021, a year in which many cities were beginning to bounce back from the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions of 2020.
Provo-Orem, Utah, was singled out for the strength of its five-year job and wage growth and a robust tech sector -- as a home to "several well- established high-tech companies and numerous tech start-ups."
Following Provo-Orem in the Institute's top five were Austin-Round Rock, Texas; Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina; Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro- Franklin, Tennessee; and Boise City, Idaho.
Among smaller cities, the top five were Idaho Falls, Idaho; Logan, Utah; St. George, Utah; The Villages, Florida; and Bend-Redmond, Oregon.
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area was the highest ranking California area on the large cities list, placing 14th, but followed closely at 15th by the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area. San Diego-Carlsbad placed 38th, while Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine placed 56th.
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale placed 68th on the list, up from 87 last year and from 93 the previous year.
The Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura area made one of the report's largest year-over-year advancements, moving from 158th place among large cities in 2022 to 79th place this year.
According to the Milken Institute, the top-performing cities identified in the report had common characteristics including a growing high- tech sector, recovering leisure and hospitality industries and above-average broadband access. The institute noted, however, that housing affordability continues to be a concern even in the highest-performing cities, suggesting that municipalities must work to increase the supply of affordable housing to attract "young generations of workers."