The Making of the Top 10

Best Cities, States & Places

The Making of the Top 10

We relied on key numbers such as population growth, percentage of workforce in the creative class, income growth, median growth and cost of living to choose our Best Cities for 2008. But these are only a fraction of the factors we considered. We know that you're a well-educated bunch who appreciate economic opportunities and a high quality of life and put a premium on managing money responsibly -- so cost of living is a priority.

Our process is based on work done by Kevin Stolarick, of the Martin Prosperity Institute, a think tank that studies economic prosperity. Stolarick helped us come up with a formula to identify thriving cities that also have the ingredients for future success.

So we included "triple threat" data on population growth, income growth and job growth. We also looked at the quality of jobs, giving high marks to places with many workers in technology, education, and professional and technical services.

Stolarick also included a "creative class" measurement, which comes from work he does with Richard Florida, academic director of the Martin Institute and author of The Rise of the Creative Class. Creative-class workers -- scientists, engineers, educators, writers, artists, entertainers and others -- inject both economic and cultural vitality into a city and help make it a vibrant place to live.


We also used the data to pinpoint suburbs or towns in a metro area where our readers might feel particularly at home. So places such as Cary, N.C., and Sugar Land, Tex., are mentioned in our stories.

Further research involved traveling to cities and interviewing insiders about prospects for continued prosperity. Our rankings factor in both the data and the results of our reporting.

PODCAST: Senior editor Bob Frick and Kevin Stolarick discuss the selection process behind the Best Cities to Live, Work and Play. Click here.

See the key numbers for our top ten cities.

See all city rankings.