Nashville lands top spot on Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities

See how Nashville stacks up against other large metros + how it earned its ranking on the annual report.

A view of a moody downtown skyline in darker hues of blue from a skyscraper's window. You can make out Broadway, the We Work building, and the Batman Building.

We’re charting a course to an even higher-performing city.

Photo by Josh Baker via Pexels

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Nashville’s economy has been hitting the gym. That’s apparent after securing a top 10 spot on the Milken Institute’s “Best-Performing Cities of 2024 Index” for consecutive years. The nonprofit think tank provides an objective evaluation of the economic performance and resiliency of over 400 US cities.

The region did drop two spots to No. 6 in 2024, but the ranking still carries weight in its class among other large cities, including Austin (No. 1), Raleigh (No. 2), Fayetteville, AR (No. 7), and more.

How the ranking is determined

The Milken Institute ranks cities based on 12 indicators of economic growth and access to opportunities — namely, employment + wages, technology, housing affordability, broadband access, and GDP growth. (Did you know? GDP stands for “gross domestic product,” or the final value of the goods and services made in an area.)

New this year, the institute took into account two other factors: community resilience, defined by how a city recovers from natural disaster, and income inequality.

Read the full methodology.

Metrics that matter + how we improve

Nashville has maintained its Tier 1 status, meaning the area rivals similar cities in its competitive wage growth and ample employment opportunities. Additionally, it stands as the fourth-strongest high-tech GDP growth in the large city category. Still on the fence of belief? Here are a few recent data points that support this statement:

With wins comes areas of improvement. Comparatively, Nashville lags behind other major cities in its high-tech sector size and marks the lowest ranking among Tier 1 large cities in high-tech GDP concentration.

What’s this mean? Though giants like Amazon and Oracle have broadened the “tech talent pool,” further investments in this area could bolster the city’s competitiveness and strengthen its position in the tech industry.