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Inland Empire is in the Top 10 of Nation's Best Economic Performing Cities
By Bill Sing, Times Staff Writer  |  23-Feb-2006
Inland Empire Is State's Top Job Engine
Florida dominates the Milken Institute's index but California has five regions in the top 30.

California boasted five of the nation's top 30 metropolitan areas for job creation and economic performance in 2005, with the Inland Empire ranking 10th, according to an index released Wednesday.

But Florida dominated the Milken Institute's best performing cities index, scoring five of the top six and 12 of the top 30.

The index's top three rankings went to metropolitan areas in Florida, led by Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville and followed by the 2004 survey's top scorer, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, and Naples-Marco Island.

Florida "is creating jobs at a prodigious rate," said Ross DeVol, director of regional economics at the Santa Monica-based think tank and the report's lead author. "It has all the makings of a job-creating machine: good weather, low costs, a growing population, a strong tourism industry and little heavy manufacturing."

The index ranks metro areas on their ability to create and sustain jobs and includes five-year and one-year measurements of employment and salary growth.

Not surprisingly, the top rankings are dominated by metro areas in the Sun Belt, with the Midwest lagging, the report said. The best areas have similar characteristics: strong and growing service sectors, robust recoveries in tourism, growing populations and an increasing number of retirees, the institute said.

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario topped California areas at No. 10, down from eighth in the 2004 survey. The Inland Empire remains the state's fastest-growing metro area with high migration from coastal Southern California, driven largely by housing affordability and availability of new homes, the report said.

Although the Inland Empire's income levels are relatively low, the area ranks fourth nationally in wage and salary growth over the last five years, the report said.

Among other California metro areas, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria placed No. 16, up from 53rd a year ago. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine placed 17th, up from 35th; San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos ranked 29th, down from 16th, and Bakersfield came in at 30th, up from 90th.

The report noted Orange County's strength in the high-tech arena, its high wages in professional and business services and strong international business investment.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale came in at No. 124, up from 140th, but ranked fifth among the nation's 10 largest metropolitan areas.

"Improving the city's ability to compete globally will only be possible if its firms have access to advanced technology and a well-educated, flexible workforce," the report said.

Job sites

Here are the top 10 U.S. metro areas for job creation and others in California among the top 50, with last year's rankings.

1. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla. (31)

2. Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Fla. (1)

3. Naples-Marco Island, Fla. (15)

4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas (18)

5. Deltona-Daytona Beach- Ormond Beach, Fla. (5)

6. Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla. (29)

7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W. Va. (11)

8. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.-Mo. (7)

9. Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, Fla. (9)

10. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (8)

16. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria (53)

17. Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine (35)

29. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos (16)

30. Bakersfield (90)

31. Stockton (40)

34. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville (22)

38. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura (30)

40. Fresno (47)

41. Vallejo-Fairfield (23)

47. Modesto (73)


Source: Milken Institute

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