Seattle fell three places among the nation's most vibrant metro areas but still made the top 10. Many metros in the Northwest weren't nearly as fortunate.

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The nation’s diminishing ranks of journalists are deluged with lists and rankings, but only some are authoritative enough to be worth publishing. One came out today, the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities for 2016. It uses a host of metrics, from jobs and wage growth to number of high-tech industries, to measure economic performance.

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett comes in at No. 10 this year, down from No. 7 in the last report. Portland was No. 14, down six places. Bend ranked as the nation’s top small city. Big declines were registered in Tacoma (down 70 points to No. 131), Olympia, (down 50 to 113), Kennewick-Richland (down 44 to No. 127) and Anchorage (down 39 to No. 171).

At the top were Silicon Valley, Provo-Orem, Utah, Austin, San Francisco and Dallas.

Seattle, the report states, “remains among our top performers this year despite headwinds from job cuts at Boeing…. The area is one of the world’s most innovative regions. Much of that comes from the area’s Top 3 private-sector employers: Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon. However, the University of Washington is a major contributor. It was the top recipient of federal research dollars among public universities and ranked fourth in National Institutes of Health funding in 2014.”

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The metro area also got points for being a leader in cloud computing, artificial intelligence and data visualization, as well as for its seaport. We also boast “a rich startup scene” and, if you haven’t noticed, one of the nation’s hottest housing markets. The major liability is pressure on Boeing.

Digging into the data, one finds that Seattle ranked third in high-tech GDP concentration and seventh in wage growth from 2009 to 2014.

Other yardsticks weren’t as impressive. For example, high-tech GDP growth here ranked only 167th from 2014 to 2015. Job growth was only 46th. It’s not necessarily that we’re doing something badly, but that our competition is doing it better in some key areas.

I know some people are saying, “Please, less growth!” Maybe we can refine that to more quality growth. But once a metropolitan area’s economy starts in reverse, the first and worst hurt are the most vulnerable people.

What gets measured gets done. That’s why this report is worth your time.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Dow 20,000

Will that mean you get a raise?

The trickle goes up