Milken Institute’s annual Best Performing Cities index took Madison down a few notches — dropping the city from 58th to 72nd on its list, to be exact.
The report, issued Thursday, considers factors like wage growth, job development and technological output. The report has been published since 1999.
Madison ranked 142nd out of 401 areas surveyed for job growth from 2016 to 2017. From 2015 to 2016, Madison ranked 49th.
One critique of Madison’s ranking, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, is that Milken’s formulas weigh overall job growth twice as heavily as it does the technological industry’s production value.
According to a 2017 article from the Journal, a “Cyberstates” report from Computing Technology Industry Association from that year ranked Wisconsin seventh in terms of recent growth in tech workers.
Madison, however, was not the only Midwest city to struggle. Cincinnati, Ohio, dropped 27 places (from 104th to 131st) and both Lake County, Illinois and Kenosha County, Wisconsin, dropped 46 places.
Madison’s industrial diversity, however, has been ranked highly. Emsi, a labor market data firm, conducted a 2018 study on the diversity of industrial offerings in a variety of cities and towns.
According to the Emsi report, “more diverse economies had lower unemployment rates and recovered quicker than less diverse economies” and were generally less volatile.
Two cities in Wisconsin made the report’s top ten list: Eau Claire at #7 and Madison at #1.
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According to the report, the largest industry in the city, distributive services, had just a 7 percent share of the city’s jobs.
According to the Associated Press, Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, said Madison experienced substantial growth in the advanced industries sector. Madison had 48,600 jobs in that field, Muro said, which was the 13th-highest of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S.
Regardless, Madison did show improvement towards the end of 2018 in factors weighed heavily by Milkens. The Wisconsin State Journal said the uptick in job growth by the end of 2018 would positively contribute to Madison’s ranking in next year’s report.
The largest gains in the Midwest include Lansing, Michigan, which increased from 138th to 89th. The largest gain overall was in Merced, California, which jumped 56 places to the 38th slot.
The only Midwestern cities that ranked above Madison were Grand Rapids, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Des Moines, Iowa.