Despite the nation’s strained economy, Forbes named Madison as the No. 1 city for job employment in 2009.

After examining the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Metropolitan Area Jobs Report published last October, Ajilon Professional Staffing listed in Forbes magazine the top 10 cities to find a job.

The University of Wisconsin is a primary source of employment in Madison, with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, UW’s focal research sector, providing many jobs in biotech, health care and medical device research.

“University jobs are relevant and the university is creating spinoff business mainly in the high tech, biotech agencies,” Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. “Those sectors have been relatively untouched by the economic downturn.”

Madison has an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent — a figure significantly lower than the national average of 7.2 percent, a 16-year high.

Also flourishing in Madison is the real estate industry.

Dan Kruse, broker and owner of Century 21 Affiliates, attributes the boost in the housing industry to the availability of jobs in Madison.

“People coming into Madison are people who are currently working in the UW System and are looking for housing,” Kruse said.

Home sales in Madison remained high in comparison to other cities throughout Wisconsin, with home sales dropping 15 to 20 percent, according to Kruse.

Generally, the housing industry is seasonal, as more houses are sold in the summer and spring. However, for the past two years Kruse has seen good business in winter months.

“Madison is a somewhat recession-proof city,” Kruse said.

Cieslewicz said the state government is a stable job provider in Wisconsin as well, which positively affects Madison, as it houses both the state and county governments.

“The state government, to some extent, is a bit more resilient than other [job] sectors,” Cieslewicz said.

This is also true in Washington, D.C., the No. 2 ranked city for job growth in 2009.

The majority of available jobs in Washington are found in both the federal and local governments. Even more jobs have opened since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defense contracting, law and education are also abundant employers in Washington.

Because of the number of schools and colleges in the city, an estimated 30,000 jobs will become available in 2009 alone.

However, Madison was not the only Wisconsin city to make the list of best cities for job growth in 2009. Milwaukee was ranked No. 5 on the list, forming 30,000 jobs in health care alone this past year.

Because of Milwaukee’s aging population, the city’s health care industry has thrived.

And lower business operating costs in Milwaukee have caused many Chicago-based health care, energy and environmental companies to relocate to Milwaukee.

“In 2008, despite everything else occurring in the U.S., it was still a pretty good year throughout the state of Wisconsin,” Kruse said.