You don't have to live in Seattle or San Francisco to enjoy one of America's best economies.

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Ah, those coastal elite metropolitan areas, leading in job growth and wages increases, powered by tech companies and higher ed, connected by rail transit. You know, places such as Provo, Utah, on the shores of Utah Lake.

The Provo-Orem metro leads in the Milken Institute’s respected Best Performing Cities index for 2017.

Our national worry over winner and loser metros tends to get tunnel vision. The winners extend beyond the usual suspects, but they do tend to have similar characteristics. In addition to the factors mentioned above, those chops include major corporate headquarters and sustained government investments in research and infrastructure. Smaller metros are especially boosted by being college towns — and leveraging that into entrepreneurship and highly skilled jobs.

This year, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue tumbled to No. 17 among large metros, from No. 10 last year. Blame it on declining short-term job and wage growth, especially in aerospace. Otherwise, we come in strong for high-tech concentration and being “Cloud City.” But this latest list is a reminder that the competition never sleeps. Above us in this year’s rankings are North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (Raleigh), San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Austin.

Portland ranked No. 24 this year, down from 14 the previous year. Bend, Ore., ranked first among small metros, and Wenatchee came in fifth. A total of 200 metros were ranked nationwide.

If I have a complaint, it’s that the Milken authors are liberal in defining “large metro.” Provo-Orem’s population is around 600,000 compared with 3.8 million in Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue. Thus, per Milken’s grouping, the top five large metros after Provo are Raleigh, Dallas, San Francisco, Fort Collins, Colo., and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla. (And the Florida metro is an arguable fluke, powered by retirees and low-wage jobs, although also some recent big infrastructure investments).

Among the 20 largest metros, the ranking for 2017 would be: Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle and California’s “Inland Empire” of San Bernardino-Riverside-Ontario.

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Today’s Econ Haiku:

The job market’s tight

But people aren’t job hopping

This is news that jolts

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