Twenty Cities That Are Doing Better Than The Rest Of The Country

The Daily Beast has come up with a list slideshow of 20 “recession-proof” cities across the U.S. The 20 that made the list each showed growth since 2007 in three categories: overall employment, per capita personal income, and metropolitan area gross domestic product (GDP).

Here are the top 10; you can see the full list and the stats for each city at the Daily Beast.



  1. Jacksonville, NC
  2. Fort Hood, TX
  3. Fayetteville, NC
  4. Baton Rouge, LA
  5. Cedar Rapids, IA
  6. Iowa City, IA
  7. Harrisburg, PA
  8. Cheyenne, WY
  9. Worcester, MA
  10. Washington, DC

“20 Recession-Proof Cities” [Daily Beast]

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  1. smo0 says:

    Washington, DC …. forreal?

    Aside from the fact that most of these cities sound like they have the population of my zip code….
    I can imagine it’s because they weren’t a part of a booming, inflated housing bubble? and that most of the residents have mortgages that are paid off… and possible don’t work for huge corporations?

    But then again, it’s the perfect example of what’s wrong with America… corporatization…

    • Darury says:

      Honestly, I’m only suprised that Washington, D.C. is 10th on the list and not first. The larger the federal government grows, the more room there is for related industries such as lobbyists, etc. And since government payrolls are the only ones increasing lately, that makes DC a pretty attractive area.

      • Dean says:

        Nope, CEO payrolls have increased dramatically in the last few years (though they still haven’t surpassed peak levels which were some 10-odd years ago).

    • Etoiles says:

      Dc and its immediate ‘burbs are recession-proof because the major employer in the area is the *Federal government.* Which, whether its operating at a deficit or a surplus, is ALWAYS the big money and is ALWAYS in business, supporting loads of other businesses small and large. As a result, smaller business stay open and consumers still spend.

      As for many of the other cities listed, they’re supported by enormous military installations, which guarantee a certain level of local employment.

      • smo0 says:

        So it boils down to military, goverment spending and my taxes. Safe or not, I’m not moving to some suburbs and working for the government…..

        • Etoiles says:

          It’s not just the government though, like Pecan says above. There are the feds, and all of the contractors (and the ancillary stuff like lobbyists), but then there are thriving shops and restaurants and everything else, because the fed & fed-associated jobs keep a high enough employment and income level around that those businesses can thrive.

          Husband and I live in DC and work for two different media organizations, neither having anything to do with the government, heh.

        • jefeloco says:

          I did, you can too!

      • mac-phisto says:

        there are also quite a few state capitals (baton rouge, harrisburg, cheyenne, oklahoma city, des moines & olympia) which could be a sign of increased government spending on the state level. increased spending on administration, that is.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The Daily Beast also has offices in the DC area, so it would know. The DC area has been shielded from a lot of the problems because your major corporations (Verizon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, etc.) have headquarters in the DC area. It’s not just government. Also, because it’s the seat of federal government, all of your major news outlets have DC bureaus.

      • Wireless Joe says:

        Uh, Verizon’s HQ are in lower Manhattan, NY. Northrop is HQ’d out of Los Angeles (they’ve just announced a move to Fairfax County). Boeing’s HQ are in Chicago. Not saying they don’t have an office in DC (what smart company wouldnt?).

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I didn’t mean corporate headquarters, I’m talking about maintaining a heavy presence in the DC area. Even though their corporate headquarters are elsewhere, a lot of big companies keep a huge division of people in the DC area.

    • Doncosmic says:

      Half the Telcom industry in the US is also based in the DC area, between that, the government, and the military, its pretty recession proof. The housing prices in the exburbs has collapsed, but in the inner suburbs, they just stopped growing as fast.

    • SChance says:

      And the first three cities on the list are all located next to major military bases. (Though I think they mean “Killeen” when they say “Fort Hood.”)

  2. digital0verdose says:

    I wonder if it has anything to do with most of these cities being very military centric.

    • FoxCMK says:

      Has everything to do with it. Of course, my sarcasm detector isn’t very potent.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Only 4 of them strike me as military centric — the 1st three on the list and DC.

      • digital0verdose says:

        Well Cheyenne, WY has F E Warren. The others has reserve bases and support centers, which is guess isn’t military centric.

        If I could edit I would say half.

    • DarthCoven says:

      Let’s see…

      1) Jacksonville: Home to USMC Base Camp Lejeune and Air Station New River
      2) Fort Hood: um, duh…
      3) Fayetteville: Fort Bragg
      4) Baton Rouge: no military, but home to the second largest oil refinery in the country and is also the farthest inland port on the Mississippi that can accommodate ocean going tankers and cargo carriers. also has a booming film industry
      5) Cedar Rapids: no military, but one of the largest cities for corn and grain processing
      6) Iowa City: couldn’t find a whole lot, but little to no military presence
      7) Harrisburg: State Capital of Pennsylvania, proximity to manufacturing centers, no military though. Federal US District Court within city limits. Major freight rail hub.
      8) Cheyenne: Warren AFB, railroad hub
      9) Worcester: UMass and many biotech firms, little or no military presence, major educational center, proximity to Boston
      10) DC: um, duh…

      Half the list has major military presences within or near city limits as a major contributor to the local economy.

      • chaesar says:

        Harrisburg is 9 miles from Mechanicsburg, which is home to a naval support facility. Lots of military-related, federal-clearance jobs.

        • thisotherguy says:

          Harrisburg is also only a few miles (23) away from Fort Indiantown Gap, HQ of the PA National Guard.

      • jasonq says:

        Iowa City has the University of Iowa and its related research/medical facilities. It’s also just down the road a short bit from Cedar Rapids.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      It’s true; I was just listening to a program that was talking about this. Military benefits have gone up drastically since the Clinton era, which artificially raises the personal income. But hey, don’t they always say that war is good for the economy?

  3. balthisar says:

    But… Ft. Hood is literally the fort. It’s not the city of Killeen and the nearby communities. It’s literally, just the base! Is the fort counting soliders as the growth? Or civilian workers? Are they civilian workers drawn from across the country (meaning the counties would show growth, too), or just locals (growth on the base but limited growth in the surrounding communities)?

    • DarthCoven says:

      Keep in mind just how many civilian contractors work on military bases now. It very well could mean just “The Fort”

  4. Grogey says:

    Wow none of those are NY…. How am I not surprised!!!

  5. dragonfire81 says:

    Death to slideshows!

    If you’re going to give me a list, just give me a list, not 20 pages of junk to click through.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      How else will they give you 20 times the ad impressions?

      /sarc

    • TasteyCat says:

      At least there are no ads. I’m comfortable that they’re not merely trying to just boost page views. Still would like just a list, though.

  6. Andy Dufresne says:

    Funny list, particularly because the City of Harrisburg PA is effectively bankrupt and currently in default on their debt.

    • sleze69 says:

      Yup yup. Seeing that on the list invalidates the list. How is Washington, DC not #1 with all the federal money????

    • Minj says:

      While Harrisburg city itself may be having problems, I’m sure they’re talking about the metro area which is doing just fine.

      • chaesar says:

        Harrisburg is going through a huge gentrification of their midtown area, so property values are doing just fine.

  7. zegota says:

    Really? Cheyenne is a cool little city. They couldn’t show anything other than … a field with some cows?

    • Purr says:

      That’s the whole point. YOU have this erroneous impression of the city, and so do a lot of the subprime lenders and financiers that got the bigger, more popular cities in a bind. They get left alone because of this old-fashioned view. That’s probably fine with them. They are a thriving little city, and doing well incognito.

  8. kevslim says:

    Good old Fayetteville. My hometown.

  9. renegadetempest says:

    Very narrow definitions of recession proof…only using the changes in employment, GDP and salary.

    Harrisburg, PA was contemplating bankruptcy only a few months ago because of made financial management. That’s going to lead to the mother of all tax increases that will wipe out any economic growth.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704471204575210102200492256.html

  10. fatediesel says:

    I have no idea if this is the case but Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Des Moines, Iowa all had severe flooding in 2008, so it’s possible the rebuilding effort has brought jobs to the cities and helped their economies. In addition housing prices never saw a huge increase and therefore never had a huge bubble burst and the economy has not hit the state as hard.

    • jasonq says:

      Yeah, flooding didn’t really have a huge positive impact on local economy. Most the latter factor you mentioned, lower costs of living to begin with, the presence of ag and insurance (in Des Moines’ case), and various other things (like the U of I as I mentioned upthread).

      • osiris73 says:

        I live in Bettendorf, IA about 45 minutes from Iowa City. Our housing prices barely went up at all the last 10 years. Same with the rest of the Quad Cities on the Illinois side of the river. It’s the stubborn Iowa way that we don’t do things the way other people do. Haven’t you ever seen The Music Man?

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          I’m in Peoria, and while local industry has been hit by the recession, we didn’t have a housing price bubble either. My home value keeps increasing slowly and unsexily, but steadily. That’s provided a lot more economic stability in the area even as the jobs situation hasn’t been awesome.

  11. Nate425 says:

    So I live in the #20 city…Charlottesville, VA. I’m guessing the only reason it made the list is because of the university and ties to the military, or they paid to make it on there. Everything else is going to pot. Oh and the picture they used is of Roanoke…which is about 2 hours southwest of here. That list doesn’t seem too trustworthy to me.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Or the crazy people that commute from C’Ville to DC. Some contractors are down there too. They realized that this 2010 and they don’t need an office in DC to win contracts.

  12. jbandsma says:

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that most of these cities’ major income relies on military bases? Oil for Cheyenne, etc.

  13. RickinStHelen says:

    Three large military centers (one literally an Army post) plus the Capitol of our country. I wonder if there could be a link between recession proof and government . . .

  14. CitraBenzoet says:

    really? Fayettenam, NC and Jacksonville, NC ? has the Daily Beast ever been to either one? i guess they would be only considered recession proof because a) there is an army base in both and b) they have always looked like crap a recession wouldnt make much of a difference.

    • c_c says:

      Yea J-Ville and Fayetteville aren’t exactly good living … unless you like strip clubs, hookers and military/civilian barbers. Only thing Jacksonville has going for it is close proximity to the beach.

    • digital0verdose says:

      Both are bigger than just army. Fayetteville also has Pope AFB and Jacksonville has Camp Lejeune.

    • PBallRaven says:

      I dare you to go to Jacksonville and tell the Marines that they are on an “Army” base.

      Technically, you could say that they are on a Navy base and be correct, but you’ll get the same treatment.

  15. c_c says:

    So I guess the military industrial complex is chugging along just fine… a lot of these are military towns…

  16. rpm773 says:

    The last I heard, Harrisburg was contemplating declaring bankruptcy.

    • thisotherguy says:

      True, Harrisburg city is in some financial troubles. In reality, Harrisburg city is a very small part of the overall metro area which is still doing rather well.

  17. Amy Remax says:

    Wait…Worcester?

  18. thereviewer says:

    Fort Hood? Really. Killeen is an unbearable shit hole. It has the lowest home prices in the country. Why? Because no one wants to live there. Of course it’s recession proof if you have a military base that brings in “jobs” and the home prices go up from 40,000 to 42,000 for a 1300 square foot home. That doesn’t mean that it is worth a damn to live there. And if they really mean Fort Hood, I guess you gotta enlist to get a house on base. I have found The Daily Beast to be in general horrible writing let’s skip reposts from them next time.

  19. nobomojo says:

    # 1 and #3 — no thanks. Don’t know about the rest of them. PS I live in NC.

  20. selianth says:

    Worcester? Huh.

    • gjones77 says:

      No kidding, that place is an complete pit…

    • LuzioFantazmic says:

      Must be the new City Square project. That’s gonna save the city. Just like the convention center would. Expanding the airport would. Renovating Union Station would. Connecting I-290 to Rt 146 would. I could go on.

      Makes you wonder. High property taxes. Really high commercial taxes. And they want to raise them higher. The largest employer in the city is threatening layoffs thanks to the health care overhaul and government reimbursement cuts.

      The only thing they have going for the city are all the colleges and the biotech industry. And even biotech is drying up.

    • Gambrinus says:

      Worcester was a shithole before the recession, and it still is a shithole. So I guess it’s got that going for it.

  21. Buckus says:

    Maybe they’re recession-proof because they suck whether the economy is doing well or not? Haha, just saying…

  22. Coupon says:

    Rats, I don’t want to live in any of those cities.

  23. grapedog says:

    Heh, i’ve lived near all those places. Fayetville was pretty much a dump. Worchester is not bad at all though, all things considered. I live in Nolanville now, about 15 minutes from Hood. They have a LOT of civilian contractors working there now. My nephew just started working at Hood as an electricians apprentice, making 25 hour and getting 70 hours a week. Pretty sweet gig for him just coming out of high school.

    • selianth says:

      You know that Worcester isn’t pronounced like “Worchester,” right? Did you really live there? :)

      • theycallmeGinger says:

        Yeah… Not only did grapedog spell it the exact way you are not supposed to say it, but he/she also said it’s not bad at all! This sounds fishy to me…

        • selianth says:

          I admit that when we were house-hunting, we looked at several properties in Worcester. Salisbury Street is actually quite nice. Way out of our price range, but nice. Now we live in a different “-ster” 20 minutes north and are perfectly content just hitting the Shrewsbury Street restaurant scene every once in a while.

      • grapedog says:

        Sorry, I was thinking of Dorchester when I wrote Worcester, lol. I didn’t live IN Worcester, I lived about 45 minutes west, but I traveled there pretty often.

        Even got pulled over and had my car towed in that POS, 1 stop light town next to Worcester, East Brookfield because my registration was a month out of date. My bad I know, but you would think at 2am on a friday night, he would let us get back home with a ticket. Only payphone in town was broken and it was pouring rain… and this was before cellphones, like 99 or 2000.

  24. stopNgoBeau says:

    WooHoo! Baton Rouge is good for something!

  25. emrichar says:

    Same here! If you’ve not been there recently, Ft. Bragg (adjacent to Fayetteville, NC) has had a huge building boom in the last few years as WW II era buildings have been renovated or replaced and new buildings have been built to accommodate troops (and their families) that have been relocated there from other bases that have closed. Also, there are plenty of troops regularly rotating home from Iraq and Afghanistan with all of that combat pay burning a hole in their pockets!

  26. davekoob says:

    Representing Cedar Rapids/ Iowa City here!!! (Live an hour northwest of Cedar Rapids in the Waterloo/ Cedar Falls area) and commute to and work in Cedar Rapids.

    I’m worried if we’ll just be late to the economy downfall game, but optimistic that it might just blow over us like a nasty looking storm!

  27. Amy Remax says:

    Worcester, MA? Really??!!???

  28. Wysguy says:

    “If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate.”
    — M. Barry, former Mayor of Washington, DC

  29. darthwaveous says:

    # Fort Hood, TX

    # Fayetteville, NC

    One only wonders why the home of Ft Hood and Ft Brag are doing well with all our recent military colonialism .. oh excuse me our war on terror pursuits. Jacksonville is the only city on that list I would even consider relocating to. Come on Cheyenne, WY. You got to be kidding me?