What recession? Raleigh, Durham top Forbes list

Raleigh skyline

Raleigh skyline

Posted: Mar. 27 9:46 a.m.
Updated: Mar. 27 10:02 a.m.

Raleigh, N.C. — The recession could be a lot worse for people in the Triangle than it is, according to Forbes magazine.

In its annual Best Places for Business and Careers rankings, Forbes said no metro area in the U.S. can compare to Raleigh. It was the third year in a row that Raleigh topped the list.

Durham was ranked No. 3 on the Forbes list – Fort Collins, Colo., was second – and Greenville finished second behind Sioux Falls, S.D., on the list of best small metro areas.

The magazine cited the Triangle's strong job growth – both past and projected – low business costs and highly educated work force.

The region's unemployment rate jumped to 7.9 percent in January, losing 12.200 jobs, and IBM laid off several hundred workers in Research Triangle Park on Thursday.

Forbes said the number of jobless will likely continue to grow this year after five years of 4 percent annual job growth. The employment picture is expected to brighten in 2010 and 2011, however, and Moody's Economy.com projects a three-year annual employment gain of 1.4 percent, which would be the 15th-best in the country.

"Raleigh is holding up better than any other place in North Carolina," Matthew Martin, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., told the magazine.

North Carolina placed six metros among the top 20 on Forbes' list. Asheville finished sixth, Wilmington was 13th, Winston-Salem was 18th and Charlotte was 19th.