Feb 7, 2024 - News

Philadelphia makes strides on Milken Institute's "Best Performing Cities" list

Illustration of a winner's medal shaped like a location pin.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Philadelphia metro made big gains in the Milken Institute's latest annual list of Best Performing Cities.

Why it matters: These metropolitan areas offer high wages, plentiful jobs and thriving tech sectors — making them economic models for the rest of the nation.

Driving the news: The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit, analyzed 403 U.S. metropolitan areas using 13 economic metrics, based on data from January 2022-August 2023.

Zoom in: The Philly area ranked No. 52, a significant jump from last year (No. 182).

Zoom out: Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah, topped the list.

Of note: This year's rankings considered two new factors: income equality and "resilience," or a city's ability to withstand severe weather and economic turmoil.

Details: Philly nabbed the top spot for the most-improved metro area among big cities.

  • Those gains were driven by strong wage and job growth over the past year, Maggie Switek, lead author of the report, tells Axios.

Between the lines: Philly's growth went beyond the leisure and hospitality industries to include high-salary jobs in the high-tech sector and professional services.

  • "In that sense, Philadelphia stands out in that its gains in the rankings have been driven really by growth in high-paying industries," Switek said.

Yes, but: The metro still has several challenges.

Of note: Trenton, New Jersey, was ranked No. 51, just above Philly.

Meanwhile, Harrisburg-Carlisle (53); Camden, New Jersey, (59); and Lancaster (79) were among the other nearby metros to make the list.

What's next: Expect climate change, the migration of high-tech jobs and the evolution of remote work patterns to continue shaping the fortunes of cities across America.


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