C-U slips, Danville rises in ranking based on jobs, wages

CHAMPAIGN — A report from the Milken Institute on America's best-performing cities found Champaign-Urbana was slipping in 2012 while Danville was climbing.

The annual report — "Best-Performing Cities 2012: Where America's Jobs Are Created and Sustained" — ranked 200 large cities and 179 small cities in the U.S. on job growth, wage growth and high-tech jobs.

Among the small cities, Champaign-Urbana ranked 112th out of 179 in 2012, down from 93rd in 2011.

Danville, meanwhile, ranked 158th on the small-cities list, up from 172nd in 2011.

For the most part, there's a good deal of fluidity in the rankings, released in mid-January. For example, Little Rock, Ark., dropped 132 spots on the large-cities list from last year, while Minneapolis-St. Paul climbed 94 spots.

How a city fares depends partly on whether it's a heavy manufacturing area or predominantly a service economy.

Cities with big industrial bases, like Gary, Ind., and Rockford tended to move up in the 2012 rankings as the recovery picked up steam.

Many cities that fell in the rankings "tended to be dependent on the service sector," the Milken Institute said in its report. "Without much of a manufacturing presence, they sat out the recovery."

The 2012 rankings used the same methodology as last year's. Specifically, the study looked at:

— Job growth over one year (2010-11) and over five years (2006-11).

— Wage growth over one year (2009-10) and over five years (2005-10).

— High-tech growth over one-year (2010-11) and over five years (2006-11).

— High-tech concentration in the economy in 2011.

— Short-term job growth between May 2011 and May 2012.

— The number of high-tech fields where the concentration in the local economy is greater than the national average.

Got it?

It's that last category in which Champaign-Urbana fared particularly well, ranking 18th among the 179 small cities in that aspect.

For the most part, Champaign-Urbana lagged behind many of the small cities in job growth, but did relatively better in wage growth. It also did relatively well in the study's measures of high-tech growth.

Though Danville's overall rank was not as high as Champaign-Urbana's, Danville did perform better than its neighbor in the one-year job growth and one-year wage growth categories.

As might be expected, Danville didn't measure up to Champaign-Urbana in the high-tech categories. The presence of the University of Illinois presumably gives Champaign-Urbana an edge.

Among the nation's large cities, San Jose, Calif. — the home of Silicon Valley — took the top spot, followed by Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, N.C.

All three metro areas are "technology clusters," the report noted.

Good businesses to be in during 2012 were the design and production of communications and computing devices, the report said.

It was also good to be a business that serves companies and consumers online, the institute said.

"The resurgence of business investment in equipment — especially information technology and software — has been the unheralded story of this recovery," the Milken report added.

Among the nation's small cities, Logan, Utah, which has a strong tech sector, continued to be the leader, maintaining the top spot it held in 2011.

Morgantown, W.Va. — helped by the pharmaceutical industry and the presence of West Virginia University — moved up from third to second.

Meanwhile, Bismarck, N.D., benefiting from oil drilling in the western part of the state and a construction boom, shifted from second to third.

Of the 12 Big Ten university communities, seven were in the "large cities" group and five were considered "small cities."

Of those five, Champaign-Urbana had the lowest ranking, with its economic performance trailing the high-flying homes of Penn State, Iowa, Purdue and Indiana.

Among small Illinois cities, Champaign-Urbana ranked behind Bloomington-Normal and Springfield in terms of economic performance, but remained narrowly ahead of Decatur and Kankakee-Bradley.

Data for each metropolitan area in the study can be found online at bestcities.milkeninstitute.org.

The Milken Institute, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to advance policies that create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance health.

The institute was founded in the early 1990s by Michael Milken and his brother, Lowell. Michael Milken, a financier, attracted considerable attention in 1989 when he pleaded guilty to securities and reporting violations, paid a $200 million fine and served a sentence of one year and 10 months.

Selected rankings

 

Large cities — 2012

(2011 ranking in parentheses)

Best-performing:

1. San Jose, Calif. (51)

2. Austin, Texas (4)

3. Raleigh, N.C. (14)

Worst-performing:

198. Las Vegas, Nev. (197)

199. Modesto, Calif. (174)

200. Lakeland, Fla. (186)

Also of interest:

49. Minneapolis-St. Paul (143)

51. Indianapolis (121)

53. Columbus, Ohio (55)

62. Peoria, Ill. (68)

71. Madison, Wis. (23)

76. Ann Arbor, Mich. (132)

81. Lincoln, Neb. (35)

115. Rockford, Ill. (177)

120. Lansing-East Lansing, Mich. (150)

132. Davenport, Iowa/Rock Island-Moline, Ill. (107)

134, Chicago (156)

136. St. Louis (90)

153. South Bend, Ind. (188)

 

Small cities — 2012

(2011 ranking in parentheses)

Best-performing:

1. Logan, Utah (1)

2. Morgantown, W. Va. (3)

3. Bismarck, N.D. (2)

Worst-performing:

177. Punta Gorda, Fla. (158)

178. Lawrence, Kan. (99)

179. Carson City, Nev. (171)

Also of interest:

7. State College, Pa. (10)

10. Columbia, Mo. (25)

16. Iowa City, Iowa (8)

37. Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind. (96)

66. Bloomington-Normal, Ill. (44)

77. Terre Haute, Ind. (105)

91. Bloomington, Ind. (49)

102. Springfield, Ill. (45)

112. Champaign-Urbana, Ill. (93)

115. Decatur, Ill. (163)

121. Kankakee-Bradley, Ill. (62)

158. Danville, Ill. (172)

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