Guess who’s back in the top 10 as one of the best-performing cities in 2021? If you guessed Raleigh, you’re in luck. In fact, The City of Oaks is in the top 5, according to research. The Milken Institution released its annual Best-Performing Cities Index, and as with most things over the past 12 months, the COVID-19 pandemic played its hand at shaping the list. The research measured economic vitality in 200 metropolitan areas, requiring populations greater than 300,000. According to the index, this year’s list also takes into consideration jobs, wages, high-tech growth, housing affordability, and household broadband access.
Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics and California Center said, “What you’re seeing, particularly this year, is cities that are building on infrastructure and activities that they had already set up in many ways. These are all cities with knowledge base industries, all cities that really have strong economies.” If there’s one thing for sure, we know that the Raleigh-Durham area and its infamous Research Triangle Park have never been lacking in this particular area.
North Carolina State University, Duke University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill attract and produce some of the nation’s top engineers, scientists, and tech professionals year after year. Klowden said, “Raleigh is pretty famous for what’s known as the research triangle basically, they’ve been between the academic side, the private sector side, and the government side. They’ve been making investments in high-tech industries, research, and development, life sciences, basically since the 90s. So they are basically reaping the rewards of things that they have sowed for quite some time.”
Out of 200 cities, Raleigh ranked eighth in High-Tech GDP concentration. Additional support came from improvement, as the region has experienced significant growth over the last five years in both high-tech output (18th) and overall wages (sixth), resulting in an all-time best performance in five-year wage growth.
Nonetheless, the pandemic hit the Research Triangle particularly hard. Since October 2019, employment has fallen 6.1 percent. Unemployment peaked in May, 2020 at 11.5 percent, with job losses particularly concentrated in the Hospitality and Educational and Health services sectors.
Despite these losses, the Triangle region is well-positioned for recovery. The metro area has 12 high-tech industries (seventh), including communications equipment manufacturing, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, and software publishers. Even better – the region is supported by generally affordable housing in comparison to tech hubs like San Francisco.
In the past few weeks alone, the Triangle has experienced a surge of tech hiring, most notably in e-commerce related work. Amazon is currently looking to fill 1,400 jobs in the region, including at its new delivery facility in Cary.
If you’re looking for a reason to move to the Raleigh area, this might just be your sign. We’ve got hundreds of amazing communities right here to call home. Make sure to check out our blog for design and decor inspo as well if you’re needing some creativity as the seasons begin to change.
By Kendra Stowe