CNN’s Top 100 Cities Analysed

CNN recently announced its picks for the top 100 places to live in the United States, with Carmel, Indiana taking the top spot. Ann Arbor, Michigan rounded out the top 100 in the yearly piece done by the international news organization.

The specific criteria used by CNN to make these judgements are based upon the size of the city, the economic standing of the city, and a number of different factors. Once the list had been pared down to the “top 29,” CNN dispatched delegates to the cities in an attempt to gauge specific factors that couldn’t be quantified by statistics alone. Things like community spirit and traffic were gauged at this point. In the end, the tie-breaker qualification used to distinguish between equally-matched cities was the extent of job growth or losses in the area. In these tough economic times, job availability is at the top of many people’s considerations when considering a move.

Interesting facts and figures from the list include:

– CNN only considered cities with a population between 50,000 and 300,000. Last year, CNN focused on cities with a population below 50,000 for their “Small Towns” series. Cities that fell outside of this population range were not even considered for the list.

– The overwhelming majority of the top 100 cities listed by the CNN article were in the Midwest and the east coast. The greatest concentration of “Top 100” cities in these areas were near Washington, DC and along the Atlantic coast between Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

– There was no “one” state with more “Top 100” cities than any other state. The most “Top 100” cities in any given state was 5, and this was a distinction held by 7 different states. These states are California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia.

– The state with the greatest concentration of “Top 100” cities in the country is Minnesota. All 5 of its “Top 100” cities were concentrated around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

– The best areas for job growth were scattered around the United States, showing now general correlation between regions and job growth. For example, the city with the fastest job growth over the past year was Loudoun, Virginia with a growth rate of 83.59 percent. The next best job performer was all the way out in Fort Bend, Texas with a 78.07 percent growth in employment over the last fiscal year. The top ten performers in terms of job growth were in Virginia, Texas, Colorado, and Tennessee.

– The top performers in terms of air quality were equally scattered across the country. The top ten states for air quality were all in California, Virginia, Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, Hawaii, Florida, and Wyoming. The top performer out of all cities in the list was Richmond, Virginia. The standards used to determine the best air quality were based off of Environmental Protection Agency standards for particulate matter and noxious air chemicals.

– The top 25 cities overall represent a broad spectrum of the United States. They are scattered all across the country, from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between. There is also a major amount fluctuation in everything from income level to the overall size of the cities in the top 25. What this means is that there is no definite “recipe for success” that any of these cities are using. It also means that the standards used in the list are not “cut and dry.” Each individual standard does not alone dictate the level that the city will find itself at on the list.

– In states with more than one “Top 100” city, selected cities are generally very geographically close to one another. This suggests that there are some common economic and social ties that join distinct cities, despite their slight distance. This could be due to similar local resources that influence job growth, the common social ties shared by people living in an area, or any number of other factors that grow out of the localized area. Whatever the reason, there is a lot of information out there that speaks of how shared resources can lead to shared prosperity or failure.