New rankings from the Brookings Institute have Provo among the 20 cities leading the U.S. out of the recession. In January, a similar report listed Provo among the best cities for economic recovery, but these new rankings include data through the end of 2011.
For example, Provo now has the third best, or lowest, unemployment rate in the entire country. It’s the fourth best place in the U.S. for jobs, and it climbed to 36th best gross metropolitan product (GMP) from 49th (out of 100).
What does all this mean? For starters, Provo’s economy apparently is charging ahead at a faster clip that elsewhere in America. This Atlantic Cities article also compares the 100 biggest metro areas’ statuses in 2009 and in 2011. In 2009, Provo was a lower-tier city, but in 2011 it was one of the strongest. That’s a remarkable change in a very short amount of time, and one that many people may not have stopped to consider; I think most of us can remember what we were doing just three years ago, but in just the blink of an eye Provo has become a relative dynamo.
The article also notes that Provo was one of the three fast growing cities during a similar time period:
The three fastest growing cities by population between 2007 and 2010 were Austin and Raleigh and Provo, Utah (home to Brigham Young University): high-productivity knowledge bases with lower cost of living than, say, New York or Los Angeles, and large research universities. That’s good news for fans of the creative class.*
That the Provo metro area is being grouped with Austin and Raleigh and being called a “high-productivity knowledge base” is quite remarkable considering it’s smaller size and relative historical obscurity. Those other two cities are also state capitals, so Provo is managing to compete despite a relative disadvantage in government jobs and spending.
*It’s curious that the author threw in that parenthetical note about Provo in that quote. Provo frequently shows up in these rankings but the fact that it needed additional explanation suggests that it may be overlooked, misunderstood or underrepresented.