Feb 6, 2024 - News

Raleigh's economy is named second best performing in the U.S.

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

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Raleigh is — once again — considered among the best-performing cities in the U.S., according to the annual Milken Institute report.

Why it matters: The report's top-ranked metropolitan areas offer high wages, plentiful jobs, a (relatively) low cost of living and thriving tech sectors — making them economic models for the rest of the nation, Axios' Jennifer Kingson writes.

Driving the news: Raleigh ranked No. 2, after Austin, up from last year's third-place ranking.

  • The report notes that the area has attracted "high-tech firms and high-quality talent," in part driven by its proximity to Duke, UNC and NC State.

How it works: The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit, assessed 403 U.S. metropolitan areas using 13 economic metrics, based on data from January 2022-August 2023.

  • The report divided cities into large metros (more than 275,000 people) and smaller ones.
  • Raleigh has ranked in the top 20 for the last 12 years.

What they're saying: "These rankings really look at growth," Maggie Switek, an author of the report, tells Axios. "What we mean by top-performing is that these are the cities that are growing the fastest."

  • "So if we think about New York or San Francisco, those are cities that have grown in the past and now are maintaining the status quo, whereas the cities that are performing at the top are really where jobs, wages and the high-tech sector are growing."

Zoom out: Among the five cities that dropped most in the rankings was Greensboro.

  • The cities that fell "tended to underperform in two areas: one-year wage growth and the metrics of city resilience and income inequality."

Of note: This year's rankings took two new factors into consideration: income inequality and "resilience," defined as a city's ability to withstand severe weather and economic turmoil.


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