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Tallahassee MSA Named Strongest Economy in the United States

05/08/2024

Tallahassee received high marks as a leading metro area in the 2023 Leading Metro Locations report published in the Q4 2023 issue of Area Development magazine. Leading metro areas are those poised for long-term growth and are often hubs of high-tech industry, where workers may benefit from an affordable cost of living. Area Development magazine has circulated since 1965 with over 40,000 subscribers, primarily executives of large manufacturing companies and site selectors. The Tallahassee Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) distinguished itself from other communities in the United States, most notably the Tallahassee MSA ranked

  • #1 for Economic Strength,
  • #2 Mid-Sized Metro Locations,
  • #4 South Atlantic Region Metro Area, and
  • #9 Overall Metro Locations.

The methodology employed for the 2023 Leading Metro Locations article in Area Development magazine was comprehensive and data-driven. Area Development partnered with Virginia-based Chmura Economics & Analytics—a labor market software, consulting, and data provider—to conduct the research. 24 economic and workforce indicators were analyzed across 384 MSAs using eight datasets from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census, and JobsEQ. Each MSA earned a ranking within each of the 24 indicators based on its statistical performance. The MSA with the best performance in a certain indicator earned a ranking score of “1,” and the MSA with the worst performance earned a ranking score of “384.” To calculate “Overall Ranking,” Area Development created a total ranking score across all indicators for each MSA. The indicators were weighted with five-year change indicators carrying the most weight and the one-year indicators carrying the least weight. Area Development also calculated overall ranking across two categories: “Prime Workforce” and “Economic Strength.” Within the “Prime Workforce” category, Area Development calculated rankings within two sub-categories: “Workforce Readiness” and “Wage and Salary Growth.” Within the “Economic Strength” category, Area Development calculated rankings in two sub-categories: “Core Economic Indicators” and “Job Growth Indicators.” Area Development produced a score and average ranking across only certain indicators to calculate the overall ranking within these two categories and four sub-categories. Area Development also produced a set of lists, using overall ranking, grouping the MSAs by each of the 9 U.S. regions and by size: “Small” (population < 160,000), “Mid-sized” (population 160,000-600,000), and “Big/Giant” (population > 600,000).

The areas that fared the best in the ranking were those whose metrics show they are in a significantly better place today than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings presented in the 2023 Leading Metro Locations article serve as a valuable resource for businesses, investors, and economic development stakeholders seeking strategic insights into optimal locations for expansion and investment opportunities and demonstrate that Tallahassee is a prime metropolitan area for business investment and growth in the United States.

This recognition couldn’t have come at a better time than when our community celebrates its Bicentennial. The team at OEV is thrilled that Tallahassee was ranked #1 in the U.S. in the “Economic Strength” category, #2 in the Mid-Sized Metro Locations category, and #9 in Overall Metro Locations.

#1 in Economic Strength

Tallahassee ranked #1 in the U.S. in the “Economic Strength” category, focusing on a subset of core economic and job growth indicators compared to 383 other MSAs.

Note: The “Economic Strength” ranking is found in the online version of the article.

In the “Economic Strength” category,  Area Development calculated rankings within two sub-categories: “Core Economic Indicators” and “Job Growth Indicators.” Area Development produced a score and average ranking across only certain indicators to calculate the overall ranking within these two categories:

Core Economic Indicators

  • Local Area Unemployment Rate 5-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2018)
  • Local Area Unemployment Rate 3-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2020)
  • Local Area Unemployment Rate 1-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2022)
  • Gross Metro Product as Percentage of Population 5-Year Change Rank (2022 – 2017)
  • Gross Metro Product as Percentage of Population 3-Year Change Rank (2022 – 2019)
  • Gross Metro Product as Percentage of Population 1-Year Change Rank (2022 – 2021)

Job Growth Indicators

  • Advanced Industries Job Growth as Percentage of Employment 5-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2018)
  • Advanced Industries Job Growth as Percentage of Employment 3-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2020)
  • Advanced Industries Job Growth as Percentage of Employment 1-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2022)
  • Employment Growth as Percentage of Population 5-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2018)
  • Employment Growth as Percentage of Population 3-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2020)
  • Employment Growth as Percentage of Population 1-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2022)
  • Change in STEM Job Post Volume Percentage 5-Year Change Rank (August 2023 – August 2018)
  • Change in STEM Job Post Volume Percentage 3-Year Change Rank (August 2023 – August 2020)
  • Change in STEM Job Post Volume Percentage 1-Year Change Rank (August 2023 – August 2022)

#2 in Mid-Sized Metro Locations

Tallahassee ranked #2 in the U.S. compared to other MSAs with a population of 160,000 – 600,000.

The Economic Indicators used to rank the Mid-Sized Locations were the same as the Overall ranking.

#4 South Atlantic Region Metro Area

Tallahassee ranked #4 in the South Atlantic Region.

The Economic Indicators used to rank the Regional Metro Locations were the same as the Overall ranking.

#9 Overall Ranking

Tallahassee ranked #9 in the U.S. across all economic indicators compared to 383 other MSAs.

To calculate the “Overall Ranking,” Area Development created a total ranking score across all indicators for each MSA. The indicators were weighted, with five-year change indicators carrying the most weight and one-year indicators carrying the least weight:

Workforce Readiness Indicators

  • STEM Workforce (Employment in STEM Occupations) as Percentage of Total Workforce 5-Year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2018)
  • STEM Workforce (Employment in STEM Occupations) as Percentage of Total Workforce 3-Year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2020)
  • STEM Workforce (Employment in STEM Occupations) as Percentage of Workforce 1-Year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2022
  • Labor Force Size 5-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2018)
  • Labor Force Size 3-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2020)
  • Labor Force Size 1-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2022)

Wage and Salary Growth

  • Average Hourly Earnings 5-Year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2018)
  • Average Hourly Earnings 3-Year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2020)
  • Average Hourly Earnings 1-Year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2022)

Core Economic Indicators

  • Local Area Unemployment Rate 5-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2018)
  • Local Area Unemployment Rate 3-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2020)
  • Local Area Unemployment Rate 1-Year Change Rank (Avg. through July 2023 – July 2022)
  • Gross Metro Product as Percentage of Population 5-Year Change Rank (2022 – 2017)
  • Gross Metro Product as Percentage of Population 3-Year Change Rank (2022 – 2019)
  • Gross Metro Product as Percentage of Population 1-Year Change Rank (2022 – 2021)

Job Growth Indicators

  • Advanced Industries Job Growth as Percentage of Employment 5-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2018)
  • Advanced Industries Job Growth as Percentage of Employment 3-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2020)
  • Advanced Industries Job Growth as Percentage of Employment 1-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2022)
  • Employment Growth as Percentage of Population 5-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2018)
  • Employment Growth as Percentage of Population 3-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2020)
  • Employment Growth as Percentage of Population 1-year Change Rank (Q1 2023 – Q1 2022)
  • Change in STEM Job Post Volume Percentage 5-Year Change Rank (August 2023 – August 2018)
  • Change in STEM Job Post Volume Percentage 3-Year Change Rank (August 2023 – August 2020)
  • Change in STEM Job Post Volume Percentage 1-Year Change Rank (August 2023 – August 2022)
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