North Carolina is a beautiful state for myriad reasons. From the mountains to the coast, there’s so much to appreciate. Whether I’m hiking Grandfather Mountain or touring the USS North Carolina for the umpteenth time, there’s wonder to be found.

Yet our landscapes and battleships aren’t the only ways our state stands above the rest. A new report from the Milken Institute sought to rank top performing urban economies across the nation. Raleigh was high on the list, earning fifth place among 200 large metros.

What made Raleigh a top performer? Milken’s rankings took a variety of factors into account, such as job and wage growth, high-tech GDP growth, affordable housing availability, and access to broadband among them.

According to Misael Galdamez, a senior policy analyst at Milken, “Everyone now knows about Raleigh and about the Research Triangle. The universities and the innovation ecosystem is self-reinforcing and it has been paying off since the ’90s.”

Beyond the economic boons of universities and innovative research, Raleigh’s housing is considerably more affordable than many other metropolitan areas. The Oak City also possesses a robust health care sector and growing technology industry.

In addition to these contributors, wage growth has also played into Raleigh’s ranking, with workers seeing a 45.6% earning increase from 2014 to 2019.

It’s no doubt that Raleigh is a great place to live, but it is only a microcosm of the state as a whole, which continues to gain significant traction in terms of economic freedom and business friendliness. Consider this: We earned a first place ranking in Forbes’ 2019 Best States for Business, climbed to 11th in Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom in North America list, and landed ourselves in the top 10 of Tax Foundation’s 2021 State Business Climate Index.

If you want to see behind the curtain, better understanding the role that fiscally conservative policies have played in North Carolina’s exceptional success over the past decade, I encourage you to check out You’ll be able to trace our state’s impressive progress since conservative budget and tax policies were implemented. And if you’d like to know how Locke is fighting on behalf of North Carolinians, take a look at our 2021 legislative policy agenda.