Nam Y. Huh/AP/File
9. Kankakee-Bradley, Ill.: +4.6 percent
No one would accuse Kankakee of booming. Unemployment in the metro area peaked at 15.8 percent at the beginning of 2010 and still stands at 11.4 percent, more than three percentage points above the national average. But it is certainly staging a comeback with some of the strongest job growth in the nation. The central Illinois metro economy saw a 5.8 percent bump in employment in trade, transportation, and utilities sector last year. Education and health services also performed well, with a 5.7 percent rise. Major employers include an Armstrong World Industries flooring plant, a BASF chemical plant, a CSL Behring biotherapeutics R&D and manufacturing facility, a Cigna health-insurance call center, and distribution centers for Sears and Kmart. Although the city of Kanakee has seen almost no growth, the village of Bradley has grown 24 percent in the past decade. A regional health center is slated to begin construction on a new wing in June.