FARGO – Fargo was the best-performing small city of 2014, according to the Milken Institute, an economic think tank.

Fargo bested 178 other metro areas to take the top spot in the ranking, which was based on growth in jobs, wages and technology.

In its report, the Milken Institute credited Fargo’s educated workforce, the oil boom and growth in the financial and health care sectors for its ascension from third place in 2013 to first in 2014. 

“The metro’s diverse economy, along with its ability to capitalize on North Dakota’s historic oil boom, has been key to its recent success,” the report said.

Fargo-Moorhead’s economy rose to $14.5 billion in 2013 from $8.3 billion in 2004, according to the report.

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Job and income growth in the metro has exceeded the national average for years, the report said, and the oil boom has boosted the construction and transportation sectors. But the report also warned that oil prices below $70 a gallon could hamper economic growth.

The report singled out Noridian/Blue Cross Blue Shield and U.S. Bank Service Sector as two companies particularly responsible for the 700 jobs added to the metro area’s “vibrant financial sector” from 2008 to 2013.

More than 3,000 jobs were added in the health care sector in the same five-year period, the report added.

Columbus, Ind., and Victoria, Texas, were ranked second and third best-performing small cities. Bismarck took the 4th spot.