Seattle ranks No. 10 on new Milken Institute report on Best-Performing Cities; Tech & Texas top the list

Seattle finishes in 10 place in the newly-released 2016 Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities report. That’s down from No. 7 last year. As is common on these reports, technology and Texas finish well: San Jose, Provo-Orem, Austin, San Francisco, and Dallas take the top 5 slots, followed by Raleigh, Nashville, Fort Collins, and Orlando.


The Seattle page repeats the now familiar – and highly desirable – refrain:

The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington, area is one of the world’s most innovative regions. Seattle is among the world leaders in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data visualization and ranks in the Top 10 of life science clusters in the U.S. The University of Washington, the top recipient of federal research dollars among public universities, is a major contributor to the innovation engine for Seattle.

Seattle Times business columnist Jon Talton writes,

The nation’s diminishing ranks of journalists are deluged with lists and rankings, but only some are authoritative enough to be worth publishing. One came out today, the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities for 2016. It uses a host of metrics, from jobs and wage growth to number of high-tech industries, to measure economic performance.

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett comes in at No. 10 this year, down from No. 7 in the last report. Portland was No. 14, down six places. Bend ranked as the nation’s top small city. Big declines were registered in Tacoma (down 70 points to No. 131), Olympia, (down 50 to 113), Kennewick-Richland (down 44 to No. 127) and Anchorage (down 39 to No. 171).

More from the full report,

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA, remains among our top performers this year despite headwinds from job cuts at Boeing, coming in at 10th, down from seventh last year. The area is one of the world’s most innovative regions. Much of that comes from the area’s Top 3 private-sector employers: Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon. However, the University of Washington is a major contributor. It was the top recipient of federal research dollars among public universities and ranked fourth in National Institutes of Health funding in 2014.

Seattle’s ports handle the third-highest container trade in the United States and support a vast array of businesses in the region. Seattle is a leader in cloud computing, arti cial intelligence, and data visualization. It also is one of the Top 10 life science clusters in the U.S.

Talton makes a telling observation. 

It’s not necessarily that we’re doing something badly, but that our competition is doing it better in some key areas.

And, we wonder if state policies – regulation, taxes – that barely register in the hot economy of the metro region may play a role in the sharper declines in Tacoma, Olympia, and Tri- Cities. It’s something for policymakers to consider in the next legislative session.

Talton concludes,

What gets measured gets done. That’s why this report is worth your time.

We agree. It’s one of the major reasons we produce the Opportunity Scorecard