Madison and the Janesville-Beloit area are among the most dynamic metropolitan areas in the country, according to a report by the Milken Institute.
Madison ranked 20th on the list of the Top 25 Best-Performing Large Cities released by the nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank, up from No. 30 last year.
Janesville-Beloit leaped to fourth place this year among the Top 10 Best-Performing Small Cities from 41st in 2014.
“The top rankings in high-tech GDP (gross domestic product) growth for both Madison and Janesville illustrate the region’s position as a leading location for technology and innovation,”said Paul Jadin, president of MadREP, the Madison Region Economic Partnership.
Fueling the city’s improved showing, Madison ranked ninth in the U.S. for one-year wage growth from 2012 to 2013, and was No. 11 for high-tech growth between 2009 and 2014, the report said.
In 2014, Madison added nearly 2,000 jobs in the management of companies and enterprises sector — more than in all but four metro areas on both of the best large and small city lists, the study said.
“High consumer spending is supported by high per-capita income and consistent in-migration,” the report cited as a local asset.
Among Madison’s liabilities, though, are cuts to state funding for UW-Madison that “may affect the institution’s ability to retain top academic talent,” the study added.
Only one other Midwestern city made the list of the top large cities: Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan.
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Heading the list are: the San Jose, California area; San Francisco; Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas and Dallas.
Technology played a big role in determining this year’s most vibrant economies, the Milken study said.
“Metros involved in designing and creating these products and services are growing most rapidly. Specifically, the composition of growth has shifted toward software and social media, and away from information and communication technology equipment,” the report said.
“In fact, businesses now spend more on software than on information and communication technology equipment.”
The Janesville-Beloit area scored first among small cities for its high-tech growth between 2009 and 2014 and third for wage growth from 2012 to 2013.
“The income gains were largely indicative of a broad-based recovery in the local job market and, in particular, a rise in the earnings of workers primarily engaged in business and professional services,” the report said.
Data-processing services and machinery manufacturing showed some of the biggest job growth in the Janesville-Beloit area.
MadREP’s Jadin cautioned that tech jobs are not the only need in the region.
“The high-tech GDP rankings coupled with the equally exceptional rankings for wage growth suggest that this region is creating proportionately more high-paying, professional jobs,” Jadin said.
“While we certainly welcome and encourage this kind of job growth, we are also attuned to the need to create jobs at all levels of workforce,” Jadin added.
Fargo and Bismarck, North Dakota, were the two top performing smaller cities. Ames, Iowa, ranked third.
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