Plano3The population of the United States living in urban areas is growing faster than the national rate. At last count, more than four in five Americans lived in a metropolitan area, an increase of over 12% in the last decade. Meanwhile, the proportion of Americans living in rural areas declined. If this trend continues, nearly all Americans will live in megacities in the near future.

Regardless of whether this happens, more pressure will be placed on mayors to manage their growing populations. 24/7 Wall St. has completed its second annual ranking of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., based on local economies, fiscal management, and quality of life measures. To evaluate how well a city is managed over the long-term, we looked at factors like the city’s credit rating, poverty, education, crime, unemployment, and regional GDP. The best-run city this year is Plano, Texas. The worst-run is San Bernardino, California.

In these economic improving but still struggling times, 24/7 Wall Street has picked the twenty best run cities in America. The top fivePlano2 all are moderately sized cities with strong universities and high tech in their neighborhoods. Seattle with 620,778 people came in at number six and Austin, Texas with over 800,000 people came in at number nine.

1. Plano, Texas

– Population: 271,380
– Credit rating: Aaa, no outlook
– Violent crime per 1,000 people: 1.62 (2nd lowest)
– Unemployment rate: 6.9% (13th lowest)

Plano4Plano, based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, is the best-run city in America. Among households in the city, 14% earned over $200,000 in 2011, the fourth-highest proportion of all cities. Meanwhile, a mere 1.9% of households earned under $10,000, which was the second-lowest of all cities. The city’s 1.62 violent crimes per 1,000 people is the second-lowest of all large cities. Plano is home to many corporate headquarters, including J.C. Penney and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. These companies are among the 10 largest employers in the city. The city appears to be largely unaffected by the housing crisis. The median home price rose by more than 5% between 2007 and 2011, while the national median price fell by more than 10%.

Rounding out the top 5 cities are:

2. Madison, Wis.

3. Irvine, Calif.

4. Lincoln, Neb.

5. Fremont, Calif.

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