While the government sector is responsible for nearly a third of the city's employment, the city has also been helped by its universities—Florida State University and Florida A&M are both based in Tallahassee—as well as an economy driven largely by small businesses that may not have contracted as much in the recession, says J. Michael Pate, a program director for the Knight Foundation.
The Wichita housing market has resisted the wild swings in value that have done so much damage to other U.S. cities. The city even managed to add jobs last year.
Wichita's modern-day economy is still closely aligned with its past, when it earned the title "air capital." From the time local workers labored to build the Cessna Comet in 1917, aviation has been important to the city. Boeing, Cessna, and Hawker Beechcraft maintain a strong presence. While the aviation industry has been affected by the downturn, the local skill sets in Wichita are highly technical and specialized, so the industry's recovery portends a strong opportunity for the city to grow in the future, says Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research. In the meantime, Wichita's healthcare sector may be the strongest in the state—education and health services employment has risen 4 percent in the past year.