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Austin ranked the No. 1 Best Performing City for the first time since 2013

The Austin metro area earned a top ranking from the Milken Institute’s 2024 report — here’s how we got here.

The Austin skyline at sunset, with greenery in the foreground.

Say it with us — we’re No. 1.

Photo by ATXtoday

For the first time since 2013, the Austin-Round Rock metro area ranked as the No. 1 Best Performing City in Milken Institute’s 2024 report, an annual measure of a city’s sustainable and equitable growth.

Why did Austin rank so highly?

The Capital City’s rise to the top was largely boosted by economic growth and investments in the local tech sector, with high-tech output increasing by 62.4% between 2017 and 2022.

Here are some other rankings that highlight the region’s recent economic success:

  • No. 1 in five-year job and wage growth
  • No. 4 among large cities for high-tech diversification (Fun fact: Austin has 14 established high-tech industries)
  • No. 8 in five-year high-tech GDP growth

Here’s one more staggering stat for you: between 2017 and 2022, wages increased by 73.1% in the Austin metro. That’s nearly seven percentage points higher than the wage growth in the San Francisco metro.

While rapid wage growth can often lead to high levels of income inequality, the Austin metro’s Gini index — an income inequality measure — remains middle of the pack among other large cities at No. 85, while San Francisco ranks at No. 192.

A graphic showing that job growth grew by 22.8% between 2017 and 2022, while wage growth grew by 73.1 + high-tech GDP growth grew by 62.4% during that same time frame.

Austin’s economic growth has been strong over the last few years.

Graphic by ATXtoday

Yeah, what about affordability?

Among other large cities, Austin still ranks toward the bottom when it comes to affordable housing, at No. 120.

Believe it or not, that’s an improvement from recent years. According to Milken Institute research, the percentage of households living in housing considered “affordable” rose in 2022, currently standing at 68.1%.

However, affordability remains a concern for Austinites, with more than 90% considering it to be a top challenge facing the city.

How do other Texas cities rank?

Dallas-Plano-Irving was the only other Texas metro to make the top 10, at No. 8. Here are some notable stats from that metro area:

  • No. 9 for Job growth between 2017-2022
  • 46.2% increase in wage growth between 2017-2022
  • No. 153 for affordable housing costs
  • No. 136 for Gini index