The economy shed 651,000 jobs in February and 4.4 million since the recession began in December 2007. Only a handful of metro areas have escaped falling employment over the past three months. Yet there are still some places out there that remain attractive to businesses.
Our 11th annual ranking of the Best Places for Business and Careers features clear winners in North Carolina and Colorado, home to a combined 10 of the 20 top metro areas.
Leading the way is Raleigh, N.C., which grabbed the top spot for a third straight year on the strength of strong job growth (both past and projected), low business costs and a highly educated workforce.
Employment is expected to fall during 2009 in Raleigh after jobs were added at a 4% annual clip the past five years. But the job picture is expected to brighten in 2010 and 2011, and the three-year projected annual employment gain is 1.4%. according to Moody's Economy.com, 15th best in the country.
Helping fuel Raleigh's strong economy is the Research Triangle Park, one of the oldest and largest science parks in North America. It is located between Raleigh and Durham and is home to 170 companies employing 42,000 people. Big employers include Biogen Idec, Cisco Systems and IBM.
"Raleigh is holding up better than any other place in North Carolina," says Matthew Martin, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va. He cites the significant higher education presence and low manufacturing base in the area for Raleigh's steady economy.