The study by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) rated several factors, including the number of technology jobs and educated workers, a region's entrepreneurial climate, and an indicator known as "job churning," or the number of new start-ups and business failures.
"While such turbulence increases the economic risk faced by workers, companies and even regions, it is also a major driver of economic innovation and growth," the study states. PPI is an arm of the Democratic Leadership Council, a group of centrist Democrats.
The Silicon Valley ranked among the top five in nearly every category, except for computer use in schools and the rate of science and engineering degrees. It was followed in the overall rankings by Austin, Texas; Seattle; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and San Diego.
The bottom five included Grand Rapids, Mich.; San Antonio; Jacksonville, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Louisville, Ky.
Researchers said that the West fared the best in the study, while areas that have clung to the Old Economy or relied mainly on retirement and tourism fared poorly.
"For most metropolitan areas, not only are the factors that drive growth today very different from what they were 25 years ago, but the very definition of economic success has changed as well," the study says.
The study urges regions to develop policies that encourage innovative businesses, create skilled work forces, and "create a great quality of life."
"Metropolitan areas' success will increasingly be determined by how effectively they can spur technological innovation, entrepreneurship, education, specialized skills and the transition of all organizations--public and private--from bureaucratic hierarchies to learning networks," the study says.