Hub is third best business city, survey says
Our Nation's Capital isn't just about funny business --- it's also about good business.
Comics like to make cheap jokes about Washington's political excesses, but being a laughingstock hasn't stopped Washington from landing the top spot in the latest annual rankings of "Best Cities for Business," as compiled by MarketWatch.
Boston, by the way, was third on this list of 102 cities so these folks at MarketWatch must know what they're talking about.
Washington did well because its local economy was more resilient to recession than the local economies of most other cities. If a city had a local economy that survived the recession better than most, it was likely to do well in this year's survey.
A concentration of military facilities and tourist attractions can give a local economy lift, and Washington has plenty of both.
Hard times haven't exactly given Boston a good leaving-alone, but Boston still ranked near the top in the MarketWatch survey.
"Beantown narrowly missed out on the second spot by one point, but remains a perennial contender," a MarketWatch story on the survey said. "Boston was fifth last year, second in 2008, and fourth in 2007."
According to local observers, Massachusetts has been rebounding from the recession faster than many states. That's because the Bay State relies on technology and business spending, which is faring well in the current environment.
Greater Boston also has a high concentration of higher learning institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cities that got hit hard during the recession tend to have economies that depend more on the housing market and consumer spending.
So which city beat out Boston for the second spot? Omaha, Neb.
You get the change of seasons in Omaha, a great man once remarked. A hundred above in the summer, a hundred below in the winter.
Presumably, Warren Buffett, a man with Ohama ties and uncanny investing skills, brightens up the Cornhusker business climate.
Another factor in Omaha's good showing: A diverse economy that helps keep the local unemployment rate low, MarketWatch noted.
In compiling the rankings, MarketWatch said it looked at such criteria as unemployment, job growth, and personal income levels.
Maybe this year's list shows the effects of a boom-and-bust cycle playing out. Cities that thrive when the good times roll didn't all do so well this time around.
For whatever reason, many California cities did not fare well in this year's survey. According to MarketWatch, six California cities were in this year's bottom 10, including Sacramento, Modesto, and Fresno.