Boston, Minneapolis, and Portland, Ore., are the three hottest U.S. cities for housing construction, according to Hanley Wood Market Intelligence. The organization, which is owned by the same company that publishes PUBLIC WORKS, evaluated the nation's 366 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based on:

  • Growing job market
  • Favorable demographic trends (especially in migration)
  • Diverse and educated workforce
  • Subsided foreclosure activity
  • Positive quality of life.

Because growth in residential construction means property and other tax revenues will increase, these five characteristics are as important to the public sector as the housing market. The cities on the bottom of the list (see right-hand column) are also struggling to maintain services despite less support from faltering state and local budgets.

Even the hot spots are only marginally so.

As of July, five of the top 100 markets were improving and nine were declining, meaning that 86% of the markets that represent 66% of new construction are just muddling along.

— The editors of PULBIC WORKS.