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Florida Lands Seven of Top 15 Cities in Milken Index

November 22, 2004

Led by the Fort Myers-Cape Coral metro area, a burgeoning retirement and tourist destination on the state’s southwest coast, Florida landed seven of the top 15 metros in Milken Institute’s 2004 Best Performing Cities Index released last week. The others are West Palm Beach-Boca Raton (4th), Daytona Beach (5th), Sarasota-Bradenton (6th), Fort Lauderdale (9th), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (12th) and Naples (15th).

The Milken index ranks the 200 largest U.S. metropolitan areas based on their ability to create and sustain jobs. It includes four measurements of technology output growth and one- and five-year measurements of employment and salary growth (see "Useful Stats" story below).

In past years, technology-oriented metros dominated the top of the ranking. In 2003, however, after the decline of America’s high-tech sector, the top-ranked cities were those with low costs, growing elderly populations, and reliable and stable sectors such as health care and government. Florida's dominance of the top end of the results suggests this year’s also ranking reflects some of that. Other metros also benefited from these trends, the Index states, including Las Vegas (2nd) and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. (8th).

Another trend, the increase in defense spending since 9/11, benefited cities with significant defense industries and military bases. Metros such as Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz. (3rd), Portland, Maine (14th), and Tucson (17th) were among those that did well.

Others in the top 10 include Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark. (7th) and Monmouth-Ocean, N.J. (10).

The Institute also ranks the 118 smallest metros separately. Missoula, Mont., Las Cruces, N.M., Santa Fe, N.M., Dover, Del., and Casper, Wyo., are the top five cities, respectively.

The Milken report is available for download at: http://www.milkeninstitute.org/pdf/best_performing_cities_2004.pdf