As the pandemic pushes people from pricey superstar cities to mid-tier ones where life is cheaper and easier, traditional powerhouses are being upstaged by smaller insurgents, Axios Cities author Jennifer A. Kingson writes.
- San Francisco fell from No. 1 — supplanted by Provo, Utah! — in the Milken Institute's annual ranking of big metros with the best regional economies.
What a difference a (pandemic) year makes: The 2021 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index, out today, shows S.F., San Jose, Reno, Seattle and Dallas falling out of the top 10 places for job creation, wage growth and innovation.
- "Large cities in the Intermountain West and South are outperforming many areas on the coasts," said the Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank.
- "For instance, Salt Lake City moves up 21 spots to come in at No. 4, and Huntsville, Ala., has one of the largest jumps up in the rankings."
"Housing affordability" and "broadband access" were added as new index criteria this year.
- The report calls Provo-Orem a "relatively new innovation center with significantly lower costs than Silicon Valley," and says the area has attracted tech firms including Qualtrics, Vivint and SmartCitizen.
The big picture: This seismic shift of people and power can be a boon to the smaller cities that prosper — attracting companies, capital and citizens. But it can hurt qualities people cherish, like affordability and middle-class values.
Large metros with the biggest gains in the Milken rankings include Wichita, Kansas; Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.; Madison, Wis., and Lincoln, Neb.