Ranking It

Here's where Houston ranks among the best-run cities in America

Houston lands right in the middle of a new ranking of the country's best-run cities. Photo by Shobeir Ansari, Getty Images

While the spotlight might be on national politics, most people see the work of the government best at the local level. It's in that spirit that a new study ranks the best- and worst-run cities in the country, placing Houston in the middle of the pack.

Personal finance website WalletHub compared 150 of the largest cities in the U.S. to determine which are the best and worst managed for 2019, ranking Houston 73rd nationally.

The site measured each city's operating efficiency by looking at its total budget per capita and the quality of its city services (broken down into six categories). Houston comes in at No. 71 for budget and No. 86 for services.

Among the individual quality of service categories, H-Town ranks 44th in education, 59th in health, 61st in infrastructure and pollution, and 67th in economy. But it's near the bottom for safety (106th) and financial stability (117th).

The best-run city in Texas is Arlington at No. 27, followed by Fort Worth at No. 51. Texas' other major cities land lower. Austin ranks 72nd nationwide, just ahead of Houston, while San Antonio comes in at No. 89 and Dallas places at No. 93. When looking only at the quality of city services, however, Austin ranks first in Texas and 10th in the nation.

The best-run city in the country is Nampa, Idaho. Last on the list, ironically, is Washington, D.C.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.

Houston was home to more than 117,000 skilled freelancers in 2018. Photo courtesy of Common Desk

It's no wonder coworking is taking off in Houston. A new study shows the community of skilled freelance workers in Houston ranks as one of the biggest in Texas — and the United States.

The study, commissioned by freelance marketplace Fiverr and conducted by market research firm Rockbridge Associates, indicates Houston was home to an estimated 117,260 skilled freelancers who generated more than $4.1 billion in revenue in 2018, just slightly less than the financial haul in 2017.

Houston ranked second statewide and 11th in the U.S. among major metro areas for the size of the skilled-freelancer workforce and for the amount of revenue produced, according to the study. Between 2017 and 2018, Houston's pool of skilled freelancers grew 2.5 percent.

From 2011 to 2016, according to the study, Houston's community of skilled freelancers increased 7.7 percent, while revenue declined slightly by 7.8 percent. The Fiverr study places skilled freelancers in three buckets: creative, technical, and professional. These freelancers include attorneys, graphic designers, musicians, software engineers, accountants, and consultants. Any self-employed person whose work requires "specific skills and abilities" was counted in the study; excluded were folks like Uber and Lyft drivers.

"Highly skilled freelancers are an understudied and often overlooked segment of the workforce," Brent Messenger, Fiverr's vice president of public policy and community, says in a release. "By analyzing the data around these … workers, we're able to get a clear picture of the types of jobs they're doing, the amount of revenue they're generating, and the cities in which they're having the most impact."

DFW ranked first in Texas and seventh nationally in the study. In 2018, DFW was home to an estimated 154,617 skilled freelancers who generated nearly $6.38 billion in revenue in 2018, up 5.4 percent from the previous year.

While DFW dominates Texas in terms of freelance population and revenue, Austin boasts the fastest-growing freelance scene.

In 2018, the estimated 67,044 skilled freelancers in the Austin metro area produced nearly $2.7 billion in revenue, up 7.5 percent from 2017, the study says. During the one-year period, Austin's pool of skilled freelancers grew 7.4 percent. The study pegged Austin at No. 18 nationally for the size of the population and revenue of skilled freelancers.

From 2011 to 2016, according to the study, Austin's community of skilled freelancers shot up by 26 percent, with revenue climbing 31 percent. The study identified Austin and Nashville as the country's two fastest-growing hubs for skilled freelancers.

A recent study by commercial real estate website CommercialCafé found that Austin, Dallas, and Houston ranked among the most affordable U.S. cities for freelancers. Meanwhile, personal finance website NerdWallet in 2016 ranked Austin as the best place in the U.S. for freelancers, with Dallas at No. 3, Fort Worth at No. 8, and Houston at No. 15.

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A version of this story originally appeared on CultureMap.com.