Fresno and Visalia rank low in business climate

Fresno and Visalia placed low on a list evaluating the nation's largest metropolitan areas on how well they foster businesses and careers.

The list in Forbes magazine ranked 200 metros on job growth, education and the cost of doing business while taking into account housing affordability, the cost of living and annual wages.

The Fresno metropolitan area, which also includes Clovis and other surrounding cities totaling 944,800 people, placed 187 on the list.

The Fresno metro area ranked 105 on the cost of doing business, 161 in job growth 174 in education and 193 in housing affordability.

Key statistics in the analysis included 20.1 percent of adults with college degrees, the cost of living 1.9 percent below the national average and job growth at just 0.2 percent last year with a current unemployment rate of 15.6 percent.

The median household income of $44,519 represented a 0.7 growth in income last year while home prices dropped 7 percent to a median $140,500.

The analysis noted agriculture and health care as industries carrying the region's $39 billion economy, although high-tech employment made up just 2 percent of overall jobs.

The Visalia metro area, with a population of 450,400, placed 193 on the list with a ranking of 122 in cost of doing business, 154 in job growth, 199 in education, and 199 in housing affordability.

The rankings considered 13.4 percent of adults with college degrees, the cost of living at 5.5 percent below the national average and job growth falling 0.7 percent last year to an unemployment rate of 16.1 percent.

The median household income grew just 0.6 percent last year to $42,640 while home prices dropped 10.1 percent to $120,600.

Agriculture and education were prime industries in the Visalia metro's $14.9 billion economy while high-tech employment represented just 1.4 percent of jobs.

The metros with the best climates were centered in the heartland in states like Utah, Texas, Nebraska and Colorado.

Provo, Utah came out on top with college attainment at 35.2 percent, job growth at 3 percent and the cost of living at 7.9 percent below the national average.

At an unemployment rate of just 5.8 percent, the area's $16.1 billion economy is propped up with 9.4 percent of jobs in the high-tech sector.

Fresno was recently shown lagging behind 100 metros in economic recovery, according to a Metro Monitor report put out by the Brookings Institute.