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Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. Madison is also home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

As of a 2005 census projection, Madison had a population of 221,551, making it the second largest city in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee, and the 85th largest in the United States. Counting the city's immediate suburbs, the area population exceeds 350,000. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Dane County and neighboring Iowa and Columbia counties, had a 2000 census population of 501,774, and is one of the fastest-growing in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin state government and the University of Wisconsin remain the top two major Madison employers. However, Madison's economy today is evolving from a governmental based economy to a consumer services and high-tech base, particularly in the health, biotech and advertising sectors. Beginning in the early 1990s, the city has experienced a steady economic boom and has been comparatively unaffected by recession.

Many businesses are attracted to Madison's exceptional skill base, taking advantage of the area's high level of education. Forbes magazine reported in 2004 that Madison has the highest percentage of PH.D.s in the nation. In 2005, Forbes listed the city as having the lowest unemployment: 2.5%, less than half the U.S. 2004 average In 2006, the same magazine listed Madison as number 31 in the top 200 metro areas for "Best Places for Business and Careers." Forbes has however named Madison in the top ten several times within the past decade.

The biggest employer in Madison is the Wisconsin state government, including virtually all of the state's departments, such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, the Wisconsin Attorney General, and so forth. This also includes the University of Wisconsin.

Madison is also home to companies such as the North American division of Spectrum Brands (formerly Rayovac), Alliant Energy, American Family Insurance, the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group. Technology companies in the area include TomoTherapy, Sonic Foundry, Raven Software, Human Head Studios, Renaissance Learning and Epic Systems Corporation. Many biotech firms exist here as well, including Promega, Third Wave Technologies and the Iceland-based Nimblegen.

Oscar Mayer has been a Madison fixture for decades, and was a family business for many years before being sold to Kraft Foods. The pizza chains Rocky Rococo and Pizza Pit both began in Madison.

The University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics is an important regional teaching hospital and regional trauma center, with notable strengths in nephrology, oncology, digestive disorders, and endocrinology. Other Madison hospitals include St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center, Meriter Hospital and the Veteran's Hospital.

Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as Edgewood College, Madison Area Technical College, and Herzing College, giving the city a student population of nearly 50,000. The University of Wisconsin contributes the vast majority of these, with roughly 41,000 students enrolled. This makes it one of the largest public universities in the United States. It is consistently rated among the top public post-secondary schools in the country, and has outstanding courses, professors, and programs. Sports make up a large part of the campus experience at the university, both intramural and intercollegiate. The University's athletic teams, nicknamed "The Badgers", are consistently among the best in United States, drawing throngs of students, alumni, and state residents to their contests.


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