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College towns and new tech hubs will lead the way in the post-pandemic world, new study suggests

People are leaving big city life for something more manageable and less expensive

Photo (c) da-kuk - Getty Images
A full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic may still be out of sight, but some cities across America are already positioning themselves to bounce back from the outbreak stronger and better. A recent study from Moody's Analytics shined a light on the municipalities that are in the best -- and worst -- positions to recover from the pandemic. 

If you’re putting your money on the larger, more well-heeled cities to make the most dynamic recoveries, that wouldn’t be a good bet in the eyes of Adam Kamins, a senior regional economist at Moody's. From his perch, it won’t be the New Yorks and the San Franciscos, but rather the areas that were “poised to lead the way in 2020 before everything changed.”

The 10 best 

In compiling its top 10, Moody's measured population density against the number of jobs that require degrees to assess economic standing, according to Forbes. The firm also took a hard look at geographic areas where one or more counties are anchored by an urban center of at least 10,000 people. In that situation, Moody’s used levels of educational attainment and the average density across counties to calculate regional exposure to COVID-19.

Moody’s calculations for the 10 best-positioned cities to come out of COVID smelling like a rose are, in alphabetical order:

  • Boise, ID

  • Denver

  • Durham, NC

  • Madison, WI

  • Provo, UT

  • Raleigh, NC

  • Salt Lake City

  • San Jose, CA

  • Tucson, AZ

  • Washington, DC

The 10 worst

When it came to slackers, the 10 cities in the least favorable position to recover from the coronavirus are, alphabetically: 

  • Detroit

  • Honolulu

  • Los Angeles

  • McAllen, TX

  • Miami

  • New Haven, CT

  • New York City

  • Philadelphia

  • Stockton, CA

  • Tampa, FL

College towns and tech centers lead the way

Kamins pointed out that several of the 10 best areas are college towns such as Durham, NC; Provo, UT; Tucson, AZ; and Madison, WI. In his opinion, these areas could enjoy a surge in growth in the years to come.

He’s also betting on technology hotbeds in the Southern and Western U.S. to take a lead position in the post-pandemic era. 

“Silicon Valley is nobody’s idea of an up-and-coming area. But there is a notable contrast between the San Jose metro area, with its sprawling tech campuses, and tightly packed San Francisco,” said Kamins. 

He also noted that Microsoft is taking an interest in areas like Louisville, KY; Houston; and Syracuse, NY and trying to lure a growing number of people who are leaving big city life for something more manageable and less expensive. 

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