Knoxville improves on Milken best-performing cities list

Metropolitan Knoxville rose to 92nd on the Milken Institute’s 2010 list of the best-performing cities in America, up 27 spots from 119th last year.

The regional economy regained some momentum with a slight improvement in job growth — a 0.59 percent increase from April 2009 to April 2010 — and a better-than-average performance in wages and salaries growth.

That’s a mighty slender increase in job growth, but it’s a better showing than most other metro economies.

The 2010 rankings were released today.

The annual list ranks the nation’s 200 largest metros based on how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and regional economic growth. The independent California think tank looks at jobs, wage and salary and technology growth.

Knoxville ranked 40th in job growth (April to April). The region’s lowest ranking was 180th in five- year high-tech output growth (2004-2009).

Knoxville’s overall  improvement in the 2010 rankings makes up some of the ground lost in 2009 when Knoxville plunged 59 spots to 119th from 60th in 2008.

Nashville was the highest ranked Tennessee metro on the 2010 list at 84th. Kingsport was the third best metro economy in the state at 131st, followed by Chattanooga at 133rd and Memphis at 166th.

Texas dominated the 2010 lst with three of the top four metros. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood and Austin-Round Rock were ranked first and second, respectively. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission was fourth.

Detroit anchored the bottom of the rankings, slipping one spot to 200th.

“The top performers shared many of the same characteristics as last year. None experienced a large correction in housing markets. In many cases, the excesses of the housing bubble years were largely avoided and overall economic performance was more stable than in other metros. One factor that was more vital than last year was a low dependence on durable goods manufacturing,” Milken reported.

Complete Milken Institute 2010 Best-Performing Cities Index