New rankings on air pollution and boomtownsA couple new rankings recently came out. Some mixed news. Starting with the good news. On air pollution, we're no longer contending for the #1 worst spot with LA. They won it outright, according to the American Lung Association rankings. We didn't even make the top 10, which is good to hear:
The Pittsburgh area was ranked as the nation's second most polluted metropolitan area followed by Bakersfield, Calif., Birmingham, Ala., Detroit and Cleveland. Visalia, Calif., Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis rounded out the top 10.On the downside, we're still not doing so well: a grade of F for ozone, and a C for particulates. If it's any consolation, other Texas cities aren't much better, and Dallas is actually worse for particulates (I think our frequent rain helps).
Flipping back to the positive side, recent HGAC model forecasts I've seen say we should be able to get in compliance with federal air quality standards within the next year, and get further and further underneath their standards in future years. Let's hope the models are right.
Joel Kotkin's annual Inc. rankings of hottest cities for entrepreneurs is also out, and Texas is prominently mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the article:
Boomtowns and Texas have often gone hand in hand. Now, buoyed by high energy prices, a rebounding tech sector, and an influx of educated newcomers from the U.S. and abroad, the Lone Star State’s economy is booming once again.Vegas and Phoenix are still #1 and #2 based on sheer growth. Seems that everybody in California wants to sell their house at the peak and move just a bit east for the (relatively) bargain homes.
Just look at the big movers on Inc.’s annual survey of the nation’s boomtowns. Among large cities, Dallas soared 18 spots, to No. 25 among the 65 large cities measured; Houston climbed 14 places, to No. 17; and Austin shot up 10 spots, to No. 16. Among small and midsize cities, McAllen, Midland, and Laredo posted similarly strong gains. “Everything is hitting on all cylinders,” says Bill Gilmer, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
More on Texas later in the article:
Other regions are slipping. San Diego; Santa Ana-Anaheim, California; and Nassau County, New York, all took tumbles from last year.Joel always gives great speeches on the history and trends of cities. If you'd like to catch him on his next visit to Houston, he'll be at the HBJ Celebrate Enterprise event later this month (tickets).
There’s no such softening in Texas. Gilmer ascribes the state’s strong showing to several factors, including relatively low business costs, a recovery in technology—and most important, the thriving energy sector, which is attracting a new cadre of highly paid professionals to an increasingly sophisticated high-tech business. Job growth in Austin, hit hard by the dot-com bust, is now more than triple that of rival high-tech centers like Boston (No. 56) and San Jose (No. 60).
UPDATE: A clarification from Karl in the Mayor's office on our air pollution status in the comments.