Mesa County near bottom of ranking of best-performing small metro areas

Mesa County remains near the bottom of the latest ranking of job and wage growth and high-tech output in small metropolitan areas.

Mesa County edged up a spot to 187th among 201 small metro areas evaluated in the Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index for 2017.

Other large metropolitan areas in Colorado fared better. Fort Collins came in fifth, while the Denver area and Boulder ranked among the top 50.

The Provo and Orem area in Utah was named the best-performing large city in the United States. The Bend and Redmond area in Oregon was the top small city.

The annual index takes into account job and wage growth and the output of high-tech companies in ranking 200 large and 201 small metropolitan areas across the United States. A nonprofit think tank in California, the Milken Institute promotes policies that create jobs, improve access to capital and enhance health.

“Metropolitan areas are crucial drivers of growth in the American economy, taking different paths to prosperity on their industry mix, policy choices and available resources. While some parts of the country are thriving, others are falling behind,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics. “Our goal is to help businesses, investors, industry associations, development agencies, government officials, academics and public policy groups monitor and evaluate how well their region is adapting to and planning for both current and future economic trends.”

Mesa County has ranked as high as third among small metro areas during what was at the time an energy boom that proceeded downturns in that sector and  the overall economy. Mesa County has fared less well in the slow recovery that’s followed.

For 2017, Mesa County ranked highest at 134th for job growth between 2011 and 2016 and 144th for wage growth between 2010 and 2015.

Mesa County ranked 166th for job growth between 2015 and 2016 and 167th for wage growth between 2014 and 2015. The county came in at 151st for short-term  job growth between August 2016 and August 2017.

In terms of growth of high-tech production, Mesa County placed 179th for the period between 2011 and 2016, 172nd for the span between 2015 and 2016 and 158th for 2016.

Pueblo, the only other small metropolitan area in Colorado included in the Milken evaluation, fell 58 spots to 79th in the 2017 index.

Among large metro areas in Colorado, Fort Collins came in fifth overall and ranked second for short-term job growth between August 2016 and 2017.

The Denver, Aurora and Lakewood metropolitan area placed 23rd overall, followed by Boulder at 42nd and Greeley at 73rd.

The Provo and Orem metro area in Utah was ranked first overall among large metro areas on the strength of job and wage growth and a robust high-tech sector.

Salt Lake City ranked 10th overall among large metros, while St. George, Utah, came in second among small metros.