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Utah County is enjoying economic growth in part because it's a tech center that continues to innovate and generate patents, while also having low unemployment, according to a study released Friday by the Brookings Institution.

The Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program examined the patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and their relation to the economic growth in a metropolitan area.

The Provo/Orem area was ranked No. 2 in the country out of 366 metro areas with the second-highest growth rate in patents granted from 1990 to 2010 (8.9 percent), while enjoying an average unemployment rate of only 4.1 percent, according to the study. Utah County is the home of some of Utah's largest technology companies, including Adobe and Novell. Boise, Idaho, was ranked first among cities with low unemployment rates, with a patent growth rate of 11.9 percent.

The study's aim was to analyze how the generation of patents has affected certain regions of the country. It showed that 92 percent of all U.S. patents were granted in 100 of the nation's metropolitan areas. The top city for general patent growth, according to the report, was San Jose, Calif., home of Silicon Valley, the country's largest technology center.

"Metropolitan areas play a critically important role in invention," said Brookings associate fellow Jonathan Rothwell, who co-authored the study. "They facilitate specialization, collaboration and the sharing of suppliers, customers and regional assets."

The highest growth rates in the number of patents issued were in the information and communications industries, followed by computer software and semiconductor devices.

See the study online