The Medford Metropolitan Statistical Area, taking in all of Jackson County, plunged 73 spots in Los Angeles-based Milken Institute's 2010 Best Performing Cities list released today.
Medford ranked No. 127 out of 179 MSAs and finished between Bend (No. 116) and Corvallis (No. 134) among similar-sized population centers in the state.
The analysis is based on nine categories of job creation and economic growth, taking into account both short-term and long-term job growth, salaries, high tech job development and high tech jobs relative to the local gross domestic product.
Between 2002 and 2007, the Medford MSA never ranked lower than No. 31, reaching a high point of No. 12 in 2004. In 2008, however, Medford slipped to No. 39 and then fell to No. 54 in 2009 before plummeting to the bottom third this year.
Local job growth declined 0.92 percent between April 2009 and April 2010, which put the MSA ahead of 94 others.
One positive sign was the area's high-tech sector output growth relative to the national average between 2004 and 2009. The Medford MSA scored nearly 9 percent above the national average — that tied for eighth-best. While the region had a slightly lower concentration of high tech activity than the rest of the country, the diversity of those industries was greater than the U.S. average.