Phoenix among nation’s best economic performers

By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter

Phoenix metro area ranks for economic performance among larger U.S. cities, according to a new report from the Milken Institute. Provo-Orem, Utah ranks first.

The 2022 Milken Institute Best Performing Cities Index ranked U.S. markets based on wage, job and economic growth. The new rankings also include housing affordability and broadband access.

Logan, Utah also ranks first among smaller cities in the 2022 rankings.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has foundationally altered the way we live and work, and that has had a direct impact on our cities,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics and California Center. “When comparing urban areas, access to opportunity is an essential consideration, especially in light of the growing inequalities made apparent by the pandemic.”

Having become a hub for technology startups, Provo-Orem maintained its top ranking with the highest levels of employment growth and wage growth over the last five years.

“Securing Provo’s long-term economic vibrancy is a top priority,” said Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi. “Being honored as the nation’s Best-Performing Large City by the Milken Institute two years running reflects what we have known all along – Provo IS the best place to live and do business.”

Phoenix only trails Provo, Austin and Salt Lake City in the list. The Valley ranked seventh in the previous ranking.

”The Valley of the Sun is becoming a major player in high tech sectors as multiple companies have either expanded or relocated to the area in the past two years,” Milken researchers write in their report. “Looking to capitalize on a business-friendly environment, expansive talent pool, and quality of life, companies such as Nikola Motor Co., Microsoft, Uber, DoubleDutch, and Gainsight have increased the size of their local footprint. The city’s economy has rebounded well from the 2008 recession when Phoenix grappled with foreclosures, bankruptcies, and a peak unemployment rate of 10.9 percent. A strong local economy made the Greater Phoenix area the fastest-growing city in the United States for the fifth consecutive year in 2021, adding an average of 93,000 residents each year during that span.”

Phoenix is challenged by rising housing prices and lack of affordable and workforce housing.

Western cities also dominate the ranking for smaller markets with the top five including Logan and St. George, Utah, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Redding, California and Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The cities ranking the lowest in the Milken report include Farmington, New Mexico and Wheeling, West Virginia among smaller markets and Youngstown, Ohio, Shreveport, Louisiana and New Orleans among larger ones.

“Our report shows how patterns of economic activity are growing and changing across the nation’s cities,” added Charlotte Kesteven, report author and senior policy analyst at the Center for Regional Economics at the Milken Institute. “ Comparing their performance provides an essential starting point for policymakers and local leaders to better evaluate their economies and plan for future economic success.”

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March 2022