Four Colorado cities are in the top 20 in the Milken Institute's Best-Performing Cities Index for 2013, with two landing in the top 10.
Boulder is the highest-ranking Colorado city at No. 9, up six spots from last year. Greeley skyrocketed 32 spots to No. 10, and the Denver metro area, which includes Broomfield and Aurora, rose 15 spots to No. 15.
Two Colorado areas fell in the rankings, including Colorado Springs, which dropped 18 notches, from 57 last year to 75 in 2013. Fort Collins-Loveland fell eight spots from last year to No. 20.
Milken's index ranks 375 U.S. metro areas based on job creation and sustainment as well as multiple economic indicators, such as wage and technology growth.
Boulder has a heavy concentration of high-tech, highly skilled jobs and has an economy anchored by the University of Colorado. But the study notes the city has some growth liability in its cost of living and record-high home values.
Greeley - often overshadowed by its neighboring northern Colorado cities - surpassed Denver's growth this year, which the study attributes to energy exploration and recently discovered shale deposits that can "provide long-term stability."
The index noted an attractive business climate, skilled workforce and strong international links as Denver's assets for growth but cautioned that a weakened global economy may limit demand for certain high-tech products offered by the city.
No. 1 on the list is Austin, Texas, followed by Provo, Utah (No. 2, up from seventh place last year); San Francisco (No. 3, up from No. 36); San Jose (No. 4, down from No.1) and Salt Lake City (No. 5, up from No. 6).