The Fort Wayne metro jumped 29 spaces, moving to 82 from 111 out of 200 in the 2021 Best-Performing Cities Index ranking from the Milken Institute. Released this week, this year’s index used jobs, wages, high-tech growth plus housing affordability and residential broadband access to rank the 200 largest metros and the 201 small-city metros.

Fort Wayne was the third most affordable large-city metro for housing in 2019 and was in fourth place for data reflecting 2014 to 2018. Housing affordability was calculated based on the share of households paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

On job growth from 2018 to 2019, Fort Wayne placed 93rd but 161st for wage growth in that time. It also ranked 166th for high-tech gross domestic product growth between 2018 and 2019 out of the 200 large-city metros.

“Any time Fort Wayne’s numbers jump positively in a national ranking there is reason to celebrate,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne, in a news release. “Long-time residents and newcomers alike have repeatedly noted Fort Wayne’s housing affordability, so it is nice to get some national recognition there, but enthusiasm should be tempered by the less-than-robust job growth and paltry wage growth in this same time period.”

“One of the key indicators used in the rankings was the prevalence of innovation and high-tech growth, noting that a dynamic high-tech sector is a foundation for economic stability,” said Rick Farrant, director of communications for Northeast Indiana Works. “While developing a robust high-tech sector has at times been on the front burner of regional discussions, much is left to be done in generating that sector’s growth and it will need to be a sustained effort. It won’t happen overnight.” 

Fort Wayne was part of the third tier of large cities, with rankings from 50 to 119. This grouping also included Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio. Provo, Utah, earned the top spot this year, displacing San Francisco in the large city rankings.

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