By Laura Begley Bloom, Forbes Women -- The coronavirus pandemic has impacted cities across the country with varying force. New York City has been hardest hit, and it’s no secret that the Big Apple is going to be one of the places that will have the most challenging time bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic, no matter when things subside. But which cities will have the best coronavirus recovery? And which other cities will struggle? Moody’s Analytics has issued a report that examines the potential to recover from coronavirus among the top 100 metro areas in the US—and while some of the results are to be expected, some are more surprising.

“The most dynamic recoveries may well bypass traditional powerhouses and take place instead in areas that either were or were poised to lead the way in 2020 before everything changed,” writes Adam Kamins, senior regional economist at Moody’s Analytics and the author of the report.

Moody’s grouped the 10 cities best positioned to recover quickly from the coronavirus pandemic and the 10 cities with the worst chance of recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. “Note that they are sorted alphabetically in order to avoid assigning false precision to our calculations,” Kamins told Forbes Women.

Best Cities for a Coronavirus Recovery

Among the 10 best cities are small college towns, which are particularly well-poised for a recovery. “Durham, North Carolina and Madison, Wisconsin could enjoy a surge in growth in the years to come,” says Kamins.

Fast-growing tech hubs in the West and South will also lead in the post-coronavirus era. “Silicon Valley is nobody’s idea of an up-and-coming area. But there is a notable contrast between the San Jose metro area, with its sprawling tech campuses, and tightly packed San Francisco,” says Kamins, who notes that Raleigh, North Carolina could also prove to be more attractive in a new, post-COVID-19 world.

Cities that were fast-growing pre-coronavirus will continue their rise. “Denver and Salt Lake City are well-positioned to retake their crown as two of the fastest-rising metro areas in the US,” says Kamins.

While Washington DC is one of the more densely populated metro areas in the nation, its highly educated workforce and even its architecture will pay off. “Its longstanding height limit on buildings [will help] leave it in better shape than the rest of the region,” says Kamins.

Other cities on the top 10 best list include Boise City, Idaho; Durham, North Carolina; Provo, Utah; and Tucson, Arizona. Read on for the full list of best cities for recovery. 

The Data

In analyzing the cities, Moody’s Analytics looked at population density and plotted it against two measures of workforce quality, both using educational attainment. In the first comparison, Moody’s used data to compare population density against the share of jobs that require either a college or graduate degree. “Those economies that can provide high-paying jobs to would-be city residents are especially well positioned,” writes Kamins.

Moody’s also looked at CBSAs (core-based statistical areas), a US geographic area defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that consists of one or more counties (or equivalents) anchored by an urban center of at least 10,000 people plus adjacent counties that are socioeconomically tied to the urban center by commuting. In this case, Moody’s used educational attainment and the average density across counties that was used to calculate regional exposure to COVID-19.

Top 10: Cities Best-Positioned to Recover From Coronavirus

(Note: These are alphabetically sorted—not listed in order)

Boise City, Idaho

Denver, Colorado

Durham, North Carolina

Madison, Wisconsin

Provo, Utah

Raleigh, North Carolina

Salt Lake City, Utah

San Jose, California

Tucson, Arizona

Washington DC

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