Charleston from Fort Hill.
Yesterday, the Milken Institute, a California-based think tank, released its annual “Best Performing Cities” report that aims to reflect the job market in metros across the country.
Quoting the report, its goal is to show “where employment is stable and expanding, wages and salaries are increasing, and economies and businesses are thriving.”
The good news? The Charleston metro area isn’t dead last.
The bad news? Charleston was ranked 192 of 200 large metro areas, down from 151 in 2013.
The report takes into account factors such as job growth, wage growth and the presence and growth of high-technology jobs.
While the capital city received high marks for its wage growth from 2007-2012, it was in the bottom 20 percent of metro areas for job growth and the number and concentration of high-tech gross domestic product.
Below the Charleston MSA were Detroit; Tallahassee; Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville, Fla.; Utica/Rome, N.Y.; Fort Smith, Ark./Okla.; Gulfport/Biloxi, Miss.; Youngstown/Warren/Boardman, Ohio; and Atlantic City/Hammonton, N.J.
Now before we get pessimistic on Charleston proper, keep in mind this reflects the entire Metropolitan Statistical Area, not just the city.
For Charleston, that includes all of Kanawha, Clay and Boone counties.
In addition, Putnam County – one of the few growing counties in the state – was taken from the Charleston MSA and given to the Huntington/Ashland MSA in February 2013.
Speaking of, the Huntington/Ashland MSA didn’t do much better than Charleston, scoring 188 of 200 large MSAs. It moved up one spot over last year.
Like the Charleston MSA, the Huntington MSA includes much more than just the city. It includes all of Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Putnam counties in West Virginia; Lawrence County, Ohio; and Boyd and Greenup counties in Kentucky.
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Smaller metro areas in West Virginia, meanwhile, were all over the place in the rankings, ranging from the top 5 percent to bottom 15 percent.
It’s no secret that Morgantown has been one of the best-performing cities in West Virginia in recent years, and the report ranked the Morgantown MSA 7th of 179 small MSAs.
The Morgantown MSA, which includes Monongalia and Preston counties, moved up two spots over last year and received exceptionally high marks for long-term job growth and wage growth.
The Winchester, Va., MSA, which includes Hampshire County, was ranked 45th; the Cumberland, Md., MSA, which includes Mineral County (and is my hometown!) ranked 64th; and the Hagerstown, Md., MSA, which includes Berkeley County, was ranked 83rd.
Wheeling’s MSA was ranked 95th. It includes Ohio and Marshall Counties in West Virginia and Belmont County in Ohio.
The Parkersburg MSA came in 123rd, an area that includes Wood, Wirt and Pleasants counties in West Virginia and Washington County, Ohio.
Lastly, the Weirton/Steubenville MSA just barely avoided being dead last among small MSAs. That area was ranked 178th and includes Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia and Jefferson County in Ohio.
Only the Anniston, Ala., MSA was worse.
West Virginia’s other MSA – Beckley – was not ranked.
To read the entire report, click here. For a map version, click here.