The personal finance magazine Kiplinger's has released its 2009 list of the top cities in the U.S., and Raleigh is ranked 10th. While most cities would likely be happy with a top ten finish, Raleigh ranked second on Kiplinger's 2008 list and has been the Tiger Woods of municipalities when it comes to these sorts of rankings in recent years. (Raleigh's abundance of accolades has been mentioned as a reason why City Manager Russell Allen was recently given a 5 percent raise.)
Why the drop in the Kiplinger's list? It likely has something to do with the Raleigh area's unemployment rate, which has doubled over the last year to 8.6 percent, as Kipplinger's notes.
If there is a connection among many of the cities ranked in the top ten it is that most are state capitals or university towns, meaning they are places with a large number of relatively stable public-sector jobs. The top ten cities, from one to nine, are: Huntsville, Albuquerque, Washington D.C. , Charlottesville, Athens, Olympia, Madison, Austin and Flagstaff. (Huntsville doesn't have a major university and is not the capital, but it is a major center for the missile-defense and aerospace industries.)
The question for Raleigh and the politicians who love citing the city's rankings is whether Kiplinger's is a sign of things to come or an aberation. These things tend to go in cycles, and it could be that the list-makers are looking for some new city to anoint.