Pennsylvania cities rank poorly in list of best performing metros

     The sun hangs over the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh, beginning to melt ice on the Allegheny River. Pennsylvania cities, including Pittsburgh, ranked poorly on the Milken Institute's list of best performing metros. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    The sun hangs over the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh, beginning to melt ice on the Allegheny River. Pennsylvania cities, including Pittsburgh, ranked poorly on the Milken Institute's list of best performing metros. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    Pennsylvania cities not only tended to be low down on the list, but in most cases actually ranked lower than they did in 2013.

    The Milken Institute has put out its 2014 ranking of best-performing cities; Pennsylvania cities tended to perform poorly and in most cases actually ranked lower than they did in 2013. The Institute used factors like job growth, wage and salary growth, and the presence of high-tech industries to evaluate urban centers. Here’s where the Milken Institute ranked Pa. cities:

    Large Cities and Metros 2014 Ranking (of 200 total) 2013 Ranking 
    Pittsburgh 79 31
    Allentown 93 52
    Philadelphia 110 109
    Harrisburg 111 130
    Lancaster 168 168
    Reading 176 126
    Erie 181 96
    York 187 108
    Scranton 189 173
    Small Cities and Metros  2014 Ranking (of 179 total)  2013 Ranking 
    Williamsport 33 6
    State College 37 28
    Lebanon 49 24
    Altoona 112 86
    Johnstown 149 99

    Indeed, of the 25 biggest decliners, five were Pennsylvania metro areas, the most of any other state. But that doesn’t necessaily mean the cities are actually in bad shape, rather they could just be growing at a slower clip than other urban centers. Of these decliners, the report states: “Metros experiencing the largest declines were concentrated in Middle Atlantic and New England states. To some extent, longer-term subpar growth trends are reemerging, after having been masked during the Great Recession. Most of these metros have more service-based economies that didn’t experience as severe a decline as many with a greater reliance on manufacturing.” The Rust Belt, too, which has traditionally depended on manufacturing, did not fare well in Milken’s rankings.  

    According to the report, the presence of technology centers and shale energy were two important factors in determining the top performers. But, again, the Marcellus Shale development in Pa. was oversahdowed by more quickly growing markets. Report author Minoli Ratnatunga said “the metros that are benefiting from energy in our report this year are either on the small metros list and where the industry is still drilling and energy is a larger component of the local economy, or in Texas where activity is higher and there has also been growth in international headquarters jobs and/or lots of new construction.”

    Overall, San Francisco emerged as the best performing large city and Fargo as the best performing small city. 

     

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