COLUMBUS--The Milken Institute Best Performing Large Cities report lists Columbus at number 99 overall, a 37 point drop from last year, but still the only Ohio city in the top 100. 

  • For the past two decades, the Milken Institute has published an annual study on the best-performing cities in the United States. 
  • The index uses metics such as job growth, wages and technology to evalute the growth of a metropolitan area. 
  • One Ohio city made the top 100 this year, Columbus at number 99, but economists question some of the rankings. 

The overall rankings are based on nine categories...ranging from job and wage tech and industry. 

According to the report, Columbus ranks 149 out of 200 in 12 month job growth and 172 out of 200 in high tech GDP growth. 



Bill LaFayette is the owner of Regionomics, an economic and workforce strategy firm in Columbus. 

Although he says studies such as this don't hold much credence, he does agree employment growth has declined. 

“You can't grow employment by 2.5% per year and grow workforce by 1% per year and not expect to run into trouble at some point. And I think that some point is probably now,” says LaFayette. 


And LaFayette says tech employment in the study is measured by industry rather than by occupation, and it leaves out many in the Columbus workforce. 

“42-thousand people, 40-percent more than what you would expect in a region this size. But those folks aren't working for computer service providers, they're working for the big banks and the insurance companies and the corporate headquarters, and the state and OSU,” says LaFayette. 

Eight Ohio cities round out the top 200: Columbus at 99, followed by Cincinnati at 131, Dayton at 142, Akron at 163, Cleveland at 167, Toledo at 179, Canton-Massillon at 190 and Youngstown at 200.

Officials with the Milken Institute says the goal of the index study is to draw attention to cities that have done well creating jobs in the short term, as well as maintained that success over a five year period. 

The City of Cleveland ranks 167 on the list, and those taking part in the study say it brings attention to the city's declining population and inability to hire and retain local talent. 

“It's one year job growth numbers have been below the national average going back to 2014. It's in a situation where there needs to be a clear wakeup and say, how does Cleveland want to define itself, what's its comparative advantage. But it’s important for them to agree on a few specific areas particularly with jobs that are likely sustainable for the next 50 years.,” says Executive Director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics, Kevin Klowden. 


"That's a big concern, especially given the fact that population in general is getting older, and the growth rate of people in that prime working age group is slowing dramatically,” says LaFayette.

Spectrum News reached out to several city leaders and economic professionals in the Cleveland area, but all declined to comment on the study.

As far as Columbus’ key to maintaining future growth: 

“If Columbus can somehow find ways to retain a lot of the talent coming out of Ohio State, its going to maintain a real comparative advantage,” says Klowden. 

You can view the entire Best Performing Cities study by clicking this link.