LAS VEGAS -- From an economic perspective 2003 and 2004 represent a bygone era of Las Vegas history.
During those years the metro area ranked second among the nation's largest metros in economic performance, according to the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan economic think tank in Santa Monica, Calif. When the institute released its list in December for 2011 Las Vegas ranked only 197th out of the 200 largest metros.
The ranking was based on a combination of job growth, wage and salary increases and high tech output, including data from pre-recession levels forward. Las Vegas finished dead last in job growth from 2009 to 2010, 198th in wage and salary growth from 2008 to 2009, and 188th in high tech output growth from 2005 to 2010.
Texas dominated the rankings, with four metros among the top five. Here's what Milken had to say about top-ranked San Antonio:
"San Antonio is among a handful of metros that reached their pre-recession employment peak by mid-2011. Home to several military installations, San Antonio has benefited from the base realignment and consolidation process that has caused an influx of facilities and personnel. The metro also saw growth in health care and biosciences, renewed investment in oil and gas exploration and non-traditional energy sources, and revived production at its Toyota truck plant.
"Similar to other Texas metros, its attractive business climate and less onerous regulatory environment attracted expansions from firms headquartered elsewhere and retained homegrown entrepreneurs."