Best-Performing Cities 2017: Where America’s Jobs are Created and Sustained

The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities U.S. index provides a way to measure which American metros offer the greatest opportunities for prosperity and innovation across the nation. The index measures metropolitan areas economic performance using outcomes-based metrics such as job creation, wage gains, and technology developments to evaluate the metros relative growth.


Explore the Rankings


The Rankings

Provo-Orem, UT takes the number one seed this year. Further improving upon last year’s strong second place ranking, the region that is home to Brigham Young University performed well across all nine indicators and benefited from high-tech industries helping to create broad-based job growth.

Top 10 Best-Performing Large Cities 2017

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) /
Metropolitan Division (MD)

2017 Rank

2016 Rank


Provo-Orem, UT (MSA) 1 2 +1
Raleigh, NC (MSA) 2 6 +4
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX (MD) 3 5 +2
San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA (MD) 4 4 Steady
Fort Collins, CO (MSA) 5 8 +3
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL (MSA) 6 26 +20
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL (MSA) 7 9 +2
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN (MSA) 8 7 -1
Austin-Round Rock, TX (MSA) 9 3 -6
Salt Lake City, UT (MSA) 10 11 +1


Bend-Redmond, OR, remains the top-performing small metro in the nation as it continues to add jobs at an impressive rate while leveraging its high quality of life to attract entrepreneurial new residents.

Top 10 Best-Performing Small Cities 2017

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) / 
Metropolitan Division (MD)

2017 Rank

2016 Rank


Bend-Redmond, OR (MSA) 1 1 Steady
St. George, UT (MSA) 2 4 +2
Gainesville, GA (MSA) 3 10 +7
San Rafael, CA (MD) 4 3 -1
Wenatchee, WA (MSA) 5 36 +31
Elkhart-Goshen, IN (MSA) 6 39 +33
Yuba City, CA (MSA) 7 45 +38
Bellingham, WA (MSA) 8 76 +68
Columbus, IN (MSA) 9 7 -2
Auburn-Opelika, AL (MSA) 10 6 -4

Key Findings

  • The high-tech industries continue to be important economic drivers in regional economies across the country. As rising wages and rents raised the cost of doing business in cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose, some firms chose to relocate or expand away from these regions, distributing opportunities to other parts of the U.S.
  • A large share of the top gainers this year have defense and/or healthcare/medical sectors as their anchor industries. About one-third of these metros are college towns and/or manufacturing.
  • Florida is home to six of the metros with the largest improvements in the ranking. The sunshine state is home to retiree havens and medical hubs.


Updated/Published January 10, 2018