Gallup Analytics' recent analysis of metro areas' payroll-to-population ratio - a measure of economic power - ranked Des Moines/West Des Moines No. 1 in the nation. 

The analysis is intended to more accurately assess cities' employment, and, by extension, their economic health, by evaluating the percentage of the adult population aged 18 and older employed for at least 30 hours per week. 


The remainder of Gallup's top 10 were Madison, Wis.; Ogden-Clearfield, Utah; Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Va.; Little Rock-N. Little Rock-Conway, Ark.; Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark./Mo.; Omaha-Council Bluffs; Salt Lake City; Baton Rouge, La.; and Austin-Round Rock, Texas.

For comparison, Des Moines' employment percentage in the latest report was 56.5. Austin's was 50.4.


Gallup released the payroll-to-population data at an Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Metro Cities Council meeting in Salt Lake City in late January.


"This is a strong indicator of job growth in general," said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, who attended the presentation. "We feel this is a better measure of employment rate."

Gallup CEO Jim Clifton has been on a pointed campaign since at least 2012 in which he contends the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics grossly underestimates the national unemployment rate. Clifton contends that many people have "lousy jobs" that barely pay and shouldn't be counted because those employees are actively seeking work elsewhere.


"This was a real eye-opener," Byers said. "We are in great company with the other markets that do well on this measure. We view it as a gauge of regional economic strength."