According to a ranking by Nerd Wallet Finance, Chicago Heights is No. 1, followed by Melrose Park, Champaign, Woodstock, Rolling Meadows, Berwyn, South Holland, Normal, Glen Ellyn and Des Plaines. (The top southwestern Illinois city was Belleville at #22. Alton was #101.)
Many of these are blue-collar towns that don’t often get on a list like this, says Maggie Clark, the author of the study. “We do get some surprising results, and I think people are really interested in that. When you strip away assumptions that people make about places, you get a lot of interesting results, and we’ve seen that across states. We’ve done this study now in four states and it’s been real interesting to see some of the results,” she said.
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The study takes into account the changes in population, income level and employment from 2009-2012, each weighted as one-third of the total. Clark notes that cities that were at a low point in 2009 in these categories were likely to show the most growth, even if they haven’t reached the prosperity level that exists in other cities.
Profiles of the top 10 cities, as well as the ranking of all 119 cities studied, are here: