Secrets of cities that are booming despite the recession

It turns out that the majority of the cities that have best been able to stave off the affects of this current recession are located in rural America -- small, often isolated towns that have used their strength in a specific industry to isolate themselves from some of the worst economic conditions in recent memory. These are the latest findings from the Adversity Index, a collaboration between Moody's Economy.com and MSNBC.com.

Does a recession resistant city make a good place in which to live? The Adversity Index uses data on employment, industrial production, housing starts, and housing prices to calculate whether each state or metropolitan area is expanding, at risk of recession, in recession, or recovering. This month, the index produced a map of the 35 recession-resistant areas that have either totally avoided or spent no more than nine months in recession over the past 15 years. During that same period, the median time spent in recession for metropolitan areas was 23 months.

But just because many of these these cities spent little time in recession doesn't mean most people would want to spend a great deal of time living there.

The index identified 14 cities that have yet to fall into recession, and most of them have been able to beat back the downturn by relying on one industry. Lardo, Tex., was the only city that had not yet fallen into recession that was determined to be expanding by the index. The remaining 13 cities at risk, but not yet having fallen into recession were: Anchorage, Ala., Bismark, N.D., College Station-Bryan, Tex., Farmington, N.M., Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn., Grand Junction, Colo., Jacksonville, N.C., Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Tex., Las Cruces, N.M., Midland, Tex., Odessa, Tex., Oklahoma City, Okla., and Texarkana, Tex.-Ark. While the numbers say these cities are doing well economically, because they are small towns, they don't stand out as a place unemployed workers would be scrambling to move to right away.

Of the 35 recession-resistant cities listed on the adversity index map, nearly one-third (10) have a diverse economy that supported a number of different industries. The cities with diverse economies probably have the most appeal as places you might choose to live. Among them are Fort Worth-Arlington, Tex. -- which is home to large employers American Airlines and Lockheed-Martin, as well as Alcon Manufacturing (which makes eye health products) -- and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. -- which has major corporations Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and Georgia-Pacific.

The majority of the recession-resistant towns were military towns (14), and that could be very appealing, as in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va., area -- which has the Naval Station Norfolk, Langley Air Force Base, and Norfolk Shipping Yard -- or not so appealing, as in Camden, N.J. -- which hosts the McGuire Air Force Base, Army National Guard, and the U.S Postal Service, but has a major reputation for crime and poverty.

College towns, which accounted for nine of the resilient cities, are generally nice places to live. Athens-Clarke County, Ga. -- which has the University of Georgia as an anchor, Pilgrim's Pride poultry business, and several medical and health related businesses -- or San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif. -- which has The University of California at San Diego, Kaiser Permanente, and Naval Base Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island -- are easy-going places with great scenery.

Salinas, Calif., known for its agricultural production, and Rochester, Minn. which is considered a health care mecca, accounted for the other business areas that have been resilient to recession.

MSNBC.com will continue to update the index, which has a two-month lag, every month.

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