By Kurt Badenhausen
Last week’s jobs report for July showed unemployment dropping from 7.6% to 7.4%, which marks the lowest rate since December 2008. Good times, right? Not exactly. The rate fell in part because more and more Americans have ceased looking for work. Wage growth has been anemic and the recovery from the recession has been the slowest since World War II. The U.S. economy is sputtering along at 2% growth.
But there are places with strong business climates, fueled by low costs and educated labor forces. With that in mind, Forbes crunched the numbers for our 15th annual list of the Best Places For Business And Careers.
Des Moines, Iowa, tops our list this year. It is the only place that ranks among the top quartile in at least nine of the 12 metrics we graded the cities on. Highlights for the Des Moines metro area include business costs that are 17% below the national average and an educated workforce where 36% of the population has a college degree and 92% possess a high school diploma.
Iowa’s capital city has a strong foothold in finance and insurance with the highest concentration of financial services employment in the country, and employers are doubling down on the area. Wells Fargo has added more than 4,000 jobs in Des Moines over the past 10 years and recently announced a new $100 million expansion in the area. Principal Financial, headquartered in Des Moines, is putting $250 million into an expansion of its downtown campus.
Facebook and Microsoft announced plans in April to invest $300 million to build its fourth owned and operated data center. The facility in Altoona, part of the Des Moines metropolitan statistical area, is expected to be up and running by the end of next year. Microsoft is investing $678 million to expand its existing state-of-the-art data center in West Des Moines, which opened in 2009. A big carrot in Iowa for data centers and other businesses with heavy energy usage: Energy costs are 22% below the national average, according to Moody’s Anayltics.
It is not just the service economy thriving in Des Moines. The metro area had record merchandise exports last year of $1.2 billion, up 22% over 2011. Top categories include agricultural products, plastics and rubber products, processed foods, machinery and chemicals.
Click here to read the article on Forbes’ website.
Here’s the Top 10 Cities:
- Des Moines, IA
- Provo, UT
- Raleigh, NC
- Lincoln, NE
- Nashville, TN
- Denver, CO
- Fort Collins, CO
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Seattle, WA
- Durham, NC