Where do Louisville and Lexington rank among ‘best-performing cities’ in the U.S.?

By Rachel Nix, Building Kentucky

The city of Louisville is moving up, according to a new ranking from the Milken Institute.

The California-based nonprofit think tank lists metro areas by economic performance weighing year-over-year job creation, wage growth and tech innovation. The Best Performing Cities Index ranked Louisville as number 110 nationwide in 2021, up an impressive 22 spots from 2020.

Lexington was also included in the rankings at number 146 – dropping 9 spots since last year. Neighboring metro areas just outside the Commonwealth ranked even higher, with Cincinnati, Ohio at number 67 and Evansville, Indiana at 98.

Small metros from Kentucky were also ranked, with Elizabethtown at number 93, Bowling Green at number 115 and Owensboro at 131. Bloomington and Columbus, Indiana both ranked in the top 40. No Kentucky cities made the top tier in large or small metro categories.

See the full report here: https://milkeninstitute.org/sites/default/files/reports-pdf/Best-Performing-Cities-2021.pdf.

The Best Performing Cities

The 2021 list emphasized jobs, wages and high-tech growth plus measures related to housing affordability and household broadband access. The list heavily favors metros with growth in the tech sector.

Provo-Orem, Utah took the top spot nationwide due to success in job growth and high-tech concentration. The relatively new innovation center has attracted tech giants and hip startups away from Silicon Valley for higher quality of life and mountain amenities.

How Kentucky Ranks in Best Performing Cities

Louisville earned high numbers in housing affordability and high-tech GDP. Low marks came in year-over-year job growth, high-tech concentration, and broadband access.

Lexington had high marks for housing affordability and location quotients for high-tech industries but poor rankings in job growth and wage growth.

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