This year's best-performing metro area is Austin, Texas. Other cities that scored high included: Provo, Utah (No. 2, up from seventh place last year); San Francisco (No. 3, up from No. 36); San Jose (No. 4, down from No.1) and Salt Lake City (No. 5, up from No. 6).
"Some of the leading tech metros were successful despite being high-cost, high regulation locations," says Ross DeVol, chief research officer of the Milken Institute and one of the report's authors. "Cities like San Francisco, San Jose, and Cambridge have developed R&D assets and infrastructure that makes it easier to innovate there than in lower-cost locations."
Other cities in the top tier show how the surging U.S. energy sector is lighting up local economies. The shale oil and gas boom thrust nine metros into the Top 25, including Houston, San Antonio and Corpus Christi in Texas, as well as Bakersfield, Calif. In North Dakota, oil production has increased by more than 400 percent in the last five years, helping place both Fargo and Bismarck in the Top 5 small cities.
The Best-Performing Cities index shows where jobs are being created and sustained in metros across the U.S. The index includes measures of job, wage, and technology performance to rank the nation's 200 large metropolitan areas and 179 smaller metros. Unlike other "best places" rankings, it does not use quality-of-life metrics, such as commute times or housing costs. In the Institute's index, employment growth is weighted most heavily due to its critical importance to community vitality. Wage and salary growth measures the quality of jobs created and sustained.
See our interactive site for data rankings, social media highlights, interactive maps and highlights from the report: Best Performing Cities Index 2013