The Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index ranks 379 U.S. metropolitan areas based on their economic performance and their ability to create, as well as keep, the greatest number of jobs in the nation.
The top positions in the 2005 index are dominated by Florida metros, which hold not only the index's top three slots, but five of its top six and 12 of its top 30. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville is No. 1, followed by last year's top scorer, Cape Coral-Fort Myers in second and Naples-Marco Island in third place.
The 2005 winners have similar characteristics: strong and growing service sectors, a robust recovery in tourism, growing populations and an increase in the number of retirees. As evidence, six metros in the top 20 come from the Southwest, including three in California (Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Ana) and two in Arizona (Tucson and Phoenix). The other is Las Vegas.
By comparison, the Midwest has none. The top-rated Midwest metro is Madison, Wis., at 35th. Nine of the bottom 10 spots on the index were from the Midwest - five from Michigan and four from Ohio - reflecting the region's troubled manufacturing sector. Flint, Mich., is at the bottom at No. 200.
The index enables businesses, industry associations, economic development agencies, investors, academics, governments and public policy groups, to assess and monitor recent metro performance.
The Best-Performing Cities index is outcomes-based. Its components measure job, wage and salary, and technology growth.