The Lexington metro area has jumped to 44th place among the nation's large cities in an annual index that measures metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth.
The city's place on the Milken Institute's 2013 Best-Performing Cities Index was up 93 spots from 2012, when Lexington ranked 137th, making it the second-biggest gainer in the entire study after the Hagerstown, Md.-Martinsburg, W.Va. metro area.
The best-performing city in the nation was Austin, Texas, according to the non-partisan Milkin Institute. The index is focused on job creation, retention and quality.
Key components of the index include job and wage growth since 2007. Also important are the number of high-tech industries in a region and how much of a role they play in the local economy.
Among large Kentucky cities, Lexington was ranked second, below the Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky. metro area, which includes Fort Campbell, and which ranked 40th. Louisville was 58th.
Commerce Lexington president and CEO Bob Quick said, "What makes this ranking special is that is includes our entire region and not just Lexington. A lot of people within the Bluegrass region deserve credit for their efforts over the last few years to make such a large increase happen. In recent years, we've seen strong job growth across a variety of sectors, and many national and international companies are taking notice."
Among small cities in Kentucky, Owensboro ranked highest, at 44th.
To see the complete report and rankings, go to Best-cities.org.
Lexington fared best in the study's measure of job growth from May 2012 to May 2013, ranking ninth in the nation in that category.
Cities also were evaluated on areas including five-year job growth from 2007 to 2012 (Lexington ranked 67th); one-year job growth from 2011 to 2012 (43rd); and growth of wages and salaries over five years (102nd) and one year (69th).
The Milken Institute's 2013 Best-Performing Cities Index ranked U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth.
Large cities, NATIONAL
1. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas
2. Provo-Orem, Utah
3. San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif.
4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
6. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.
7. Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas
8. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas
9. Boulder, Colo.
10. Greeley, Colo.
large cities, Kentucky
40. Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky.
58. Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.
113. Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.
166. Evansville, Ind.-Ky.
189. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio
small cities, Kentucky
87. Bowling Green
McClatchy-Tribune News Service contributed to this report.