Reported GDP in 2009: $31.2 billion
Reported GDP today: $34.8 billion
Population change 2000-10: 11.6%
If that 5.7% unemployment rate looks enticing, you should have been in Madison during the recession in 2009, when unemployment was at 3.5%. That's not a headline from The Onion, either, as the University of Wisconsin, the state government (protests and all) and the surrounding medical and biotech communities have largely shielded Madison from the recession's effects. Companies such as Spectrum Brands ( SPB) seem fairly happy here as well, which has created a business base that makes Wisconsin grads slightly more inclined to stay.