Back in the 2000s, Phoenix was always at or near the top of the Milken Institute's list of best-performing cities. The local-yokel boosters made much of this. In reality, the metric was based on job growth and Phoenix looked pretty good, powered by the housing boom.
What a difference does the housing crash, Great Recession, and better measurements make. A few years ago, Milken retooled its survey. Now Milken uses a wide variety of yardsticks to present a more accurate and comprehensive look at how metropolitan areas are doing. In the new 2016 Best Performing Cities, metro Phoenix comes in at 46th.
Going deeper, Phoenix's five-year job growth ranked 40th; five-year wage and salary growth 63rd; short-term growth 76th; five-year high-tech GDP growth 56th (one-year was 110th); high-tech location quotient 56th, and the number of highly concentrated tech industries 63rd. It's not a pretty picture, especially when we're talking about the sixth-largest city and 13th most populous metropolitan area
At the top were Silicon Valley, Provo-Orem, Utah, Austin, San Francisco and Dallas. Among other Western peers was Seattle No. 10, Denver No. 13, and Portland No. 14. Blue "socialist" California won six of the top 25 spots among major metros. By comparison, Tucson was No. 155. Among small metros, Prescott was No. 33, Flagstaff 81, and Yuma 146. Bend, Ore., led the small metros.