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American Cities Ranked Best to Worst in Economic Vitality

The latest rankings of On Numbers Economic Index computed by The Business Journal contain some interesting information.

The index is computed monthly by The Business Journal, a unit of Advance Publications Inc. Advance, headquartered in Staten Island, New York, also publishes the Newhouse Newspapers including the recent seven-to-three-days-a-week New Orleans Times Picayune, the Mobile Press Register and the Birmingham News.

The index ranks America’s largest 102 metropolitan areas for overall economic vitality using an 18-point formula that accounts for private sector job growth, unemployment, housing price changes, earnings, construction activity and retail sales. The 102 metro areas that are ranked all have population estimates over 500,000.

For September, the top twenty ranked metro areas in economic vitality were:

  • 1. Austin

  • 2. Provo, Utah

  • 3. Dallas-Fort Worth

  • 4. Houston

  • 5. Oklahoma City

  • 6. San Jose

  • 7. Ogden, Utah

  • 8. Minneapolis-St. Paul

  • 9. Des Moines, Iowa

  • 10. Honolulu

  • 11. Salt Lake City

  • 12. Boston

  • 13. Grand Rapids, Mich.

  • 14. Denver

  • 15. Nashville

  • 16. Jacksonville

  • 17. Pittsburgh

  • 18. Tulsa

  • 19. Seattle

  • 20. Tampa-St. Petersburg

The state with the most metro areas listed in the top 20 was Texas with Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston all on the list. The state holding the distinction of having the most cities in the bottom 20 on the list was California with Sacramento, Fresno and San Bernardino all ranked in the cellar.

Until recently, a severe housing slump and high unemployment have kept Florida markets near the bottom of the national standings. But a recent strengthening, notably in the retail and construction sectors, has reversed this trend. The index’s five biggest gains from a year ago all involve Florida metros.

Jacksonville is leading the way, jumping 83 places from 99th in September 2012 to 16th currently. Tampa-St. Petersburg is up 80 places in a year, followed by Orlando (up 59), Cape Coral-Fort Myers (up 48) and Miami-Fort Lauderdale (up 46).

Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa., has suffered the sharpest year-to-year decline. Last year it was ranked at 23rd, but has since dropped 60 spots to 83rd due to high unemployment and a continuing decline in home values.

Connecticut metros have the distinction of being dead last in the On Numbers Economic Index. New Haven has been 102nd four times during the last seven months, while Bridgeport-Stamford has been last the other three months, including September.

Rounding out the bottom five are Chicago, Las Vegas and Springfield, Mass.

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