The Milken Institute & Greetstreet Real Estate Partners has just published their 2009 Best Performing Cities annual report of the largest 200 metros. Their criteria focuses most on job creation and sustainability.
Texas lead states with the largest number of best performing cities, with four of the top five spots. Much of their showing was because they missed the housing boom/bust and weren't tied to trade.
Washington did fairly well, with two cities in the top 20. Olympia ranked as #7, because of its role as state capital (government employment) and Seattle ranked as #17, because of the strength of the tech sector. Even among the top rankings, it was often a case of who lost least.
Tacoma fell 13 positions (and was nowhere near the biggest losers or lowest ranked) to rank #21 nationally, primarily because of the fall-off in international trade, a trait shared around the nation among port cities. Tacoma was lauded for its wages & salaries growth momentum, Boeing and Intel and as an economical alternative to Seattle. The military was cited as providing stability to the region.