This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When it comes to measuring how well cities nationally and in the region are functioning in today's challenging economy, Utah metro areas are among the tops, two new reports show.

The Ogden-to-Provo metropolitan corridor placed three cities in the Top 15 in economic activity among a list of the nation's "Best Performing" metro areas, and Logan was the No. 1 small city.

Salt Lake City was No. 6, Provo-Orem No. 9 and Ogden-Clearfield No. 15 on the Milken Institute's 2011 index released Thursday.

After Texas, which placed four metro areas in the Top 10, Utah was the only other state with more than one city in the Top 25. Utah has a diverse technology sector seeded by major universities, a quality lifestyle and low relative costs, said Kevin Klowden, an economist and director of the Milken Center in California.

"Utah has done a very nice job of establishing itself as capturing the California alternative in terms of tech," he said. "In proportion to its population, Utah has done very well. … It's positioned itself fairly well in terms of what you get for your money."

In another measurement, a quarterly report on economic activity in the Intermountain West found that Ogden and Provo were among the top four cities leading regional growth out of the depths of the Great Recession.

In fact, according to the Mountain Monitor quarterly report on employment conditions, Provo and Ogden led the region and the nation with employment gains of 4.6 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.

The Monitor, part of an index of economic measures in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas compiled by the Brookings Institution and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said manufacturing and state and local government jobs accounted for that growth. But Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings, said the state also benefits from the diversity of its economy.

"The Utah metropolitan areas, especially Provo and Ogden but Salt Lake as well, are seeing a fairly robust recovery now," said Muro, also pointing out the state was less involved in the real estate bubble that burst and helped lead to the recession, which began in late 2007 and officially lasted about 2½ years but whose effects are still being felt.

"The Utah metropolitan areas epitomize or exemplify the benefits of diversification and the importance of technology in manufacturing and innovation," he said.

In the third quarter that ended Sept. 30, manufacturing employment grew by 5.6 percent in Provo and 3.3 percent in Ogden, the report found. State and local governments also expanded employment by 1.6 percent in the two cities.

The Milken Institute report included these findings for Utah metro areas:

Salt Lake City • Went from 49th to sixth overall in the 2011 index. Notably it ranked in the top tier for its high-tech diversity, with a concentration of pharmaceuticals, medical device, transportation equipment, computer design component and data-processing services. Milken said it has the 12th most diverse mix of high-tech industries in the nation.

Provo-Orem • Employment soared by 3.3 percent in the past year. Professional, scientific and technical services, along with data processing, added nearly 3,000 jobs in 2005-10. Provo ranked 15th in the nation for long-term job growth and ninth in long-term wage growth.

Ogden-Clearfield • Jumped 38 positions from last year to 15th in the rankings. Led by employment in the federal government, health care and educational services, its job base grew 3.7 percent in the past year, the second-highest rate in the nation.

Logan (and nearby Idaho) • Jumped 18 places to become the best-performing small metro area in 2011. Its job growth outpaced the national average by more than 2 percentage points in 2009-10, driven largely by manufacturing that makes up 20 percent of employment.

tharvey@sltrib.comTwitter: TomHarveysltrib —

Milken Institute's 2011 best performing cities

1 • San Antonio

2 • El Paso, Texas

3 • Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo

4 • Austin-Round Rock,Texas

5 • Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas

6 • Salt Lake City

7 • Anchorage

8 • Huntsville, Ala.

9 • Provo-Orem

10 • Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, Wash.

15 • Ogden-Clearfield