The study’s objective was to identify America’s most attractive micropolitan areas. It gave the highest marks to small, well-rounded communities where the economy is strong, traffic is light, the cost of living is moderate, adults are well-educated, and access to big-city attractions is reasonably good.
The factors used were:
1. Population growth -- Strongest growth in population from 2000 to 2005.
2. Income growth -- Strongest growth in per capita income from 1999 to 2004.
3. Per capita income -- Highest per capita income.
4. Small business growth -- Strongest growth in number of small businesses (99 or fewer employees) from 1998 to 2003.
5. Small business concentration -- Highest number of small businesses per 1,000 residents.
6. Management or professional jobs -- Percentage of all jobs in the workforce classified as managerial or professional.
7. Ease of commuting -- Percentage of workers who commute less than 15 minutes to work, minus the percentage who commute more than 45 minutes.
8. Affordable housing -- Lowest ratio of house value per $1,000 of median household income.
9. Low taxation -- Lowest ratio of real-estate taxes per $1,000 of median household income.
10. College degrees -- Highest percentage of adults 25 or older with bachelor's degrees.
11. Advanced degrees -- Highest percentage of adults 25 or older with graduate degrees.
12. Proximity to major metropolitan area -- Lowest air mileage to center of closest metro area with more than 2.5 million people.
Nine of the 12 statistical indicators used in the study were generated from U.S. Census Bureau data. The two categories dealing with per capita income were based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The 12th indicator -- air mileage to the nearest major metropolitan area -- was calculated by Bizjournals.com, using latitude and longitude readings supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau. All figures are the latest, most comprehensive statistics available at the micropolitan level.
While Pullman and Moscow were not designated "dreamtowns", both cities were ranked in the top 1/3.
Pullman in fact ranked in the Top 5 nationally in "Percentage of all jobs in the workforce classified as managerial or professional" (#2), "Highest percentage of adults 25 or older with bachelor's degrees" (#4), and "Highest percentage of adults 25 or older with graduate degrees" (#2) (the PARDners are making me wonder if these are actually advantages.) Moscow was #4 in the "Highest percentage of adults 25 or older with graduate degrees" category.
Despite all that, Moscow was ranked significantly higher at #98 overall, with a Quality of Life score of 3.74, versus Pullman at #141 with a Quality of Life score of 2.49.
What are the major differences in quality of life between Moscow and Pullman? They're the obvious ones we talk about over and over again.
When viewed nationally, some of those numbers look even worse. Pullman is #343 in small businesses per 1000 residents, #432 in growth in small businesses from 1998-2003, #489 in per capita income, #32 for highest real estate taxes per $1000 of income (and #1 IN THE ALL OF THE WEST; interestingly enough, Moscow is #2). And worst of all, #560 out of 577 in housing affordability (nearly as bad as cities in Hawaii and Jackson, WY).
Clearly, we have a well-educated workforce with "living wage" jobs, but much work needs to be done to improve our quality of life and make Pullman a more desirable place to live and do business. Many of our quality of life rankings are either bery high or very low. We need BALANCE.
Full study data is available here.
By the way, the #1 city was Bozeman, MT, which ranked #3 nationally in "Strongest growth in number of small businesses with 99 or fewer employees from 1998 to 2003" and #5 in "Highest number of small businesses per 1,000 residents" Huh. I guess that new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Bozeman hasn't wrecked quality of life and destroyed mom-and-pop businesses the way critics said it would after all.
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