American Cities With Booming (and Shrinking) Incomes

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 Booming Incomes

Panama City Beach, Florida, view of Front Beach Road at night

25. Panama City, FL
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
4.8%
> Per capita personal income: $36,459
> May unemployment rate: 4.7%
> Employment chg.: 3.0%

Total income in the Panama City metro area increased by 4.8% in 2014, significantly faster than the 2.9% national income growth rate. A significant increase in wage earners in the metro area helped drive up Panama City’s aggregate personal income. Employment in the metropolitan area increased by 3% in 2014, somewhat faster than the national growth in nonfarm employment of 1.9%. Employment in the information sector, which often pays higher than average salaries, grew by 35.6% in 2014, far more than the 23.0% nationwide sector employment growth rate over the same period.

The historic cable car on San francisco city, california

24. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
4.8%
> Per capita personal income: $54,893
May unemployment rate: 3.7%
> Employment chg.: 3.3%

In some cities, rising income can be largely attributed to a growing workforce as earners are added to the income pool. This was the case in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metro area, where employment increased by 3.3%, compared to a national increase of 1.9%. The area’s agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining sector was one of the largest drivers of labor force growth in the area. Employment in the sector grew by 31.9% in 2014, more than the 23.0% the nationwide industry employment growth rate over the same period.

Austin, Texas

23. Austin-Round Rock, TX
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
4.8%
> Per capita personal income: $43,715
> May unemployment rate: 3.1%
> Employment chg.: 4.5%

Total income in the Austin-Round Rock metro area increased by 4.8% in 2014 versus 2.9% national growth rate. Austin-Round Rock’s population has grown rapidly in recent years, a good sign for the economy. The number of workers in the city grew by 3.3% in 2014, one of the faster such growths in the country. Austin-Round Rock’s unemployment rate fell from 5.1% in 2013 to 4.2% in 2014, one of the larger improvements in the country. In May of this year, just 3.1% of the workforce was unemployed, one of the lowest jobless rates of any metro area.

The professional and scientific sector was one of Austin-Round Rock’s largest growth areas. In 2014, the number of area workers employed in the sector grew by 6.2%, more than double the nation’s growth in these jobs.

Goshen, Indiana

22. Elkhart-Goshen, IN
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
4.9%
> Per capita personal income: $37,771
> May unemployment rate: 3.8%
> Employment chg.: 4.0%

An expanding workforce drove personal income growth in Elkhart-Goshen. Elkhart-Goshen’s unemployment rate fell from 7.2% in 2013 to 5.1% in 2014, one of the biggest improvements of any metro area in the country. During that time, employment in the city grew by 4.0%, a rapid pace compared to the 1.9% national growth rate.

Employment in the retail trade and transportation and warehousing, and utilities sectors declined in 2014. However, employment in the agriculture, forestry, and mining sector, as well as in the professional, scientific, and management sectors more than made up for those income losses. The number of area workers employed by the two sectors grew by 69.5% and 26.6%, respectively, in 2014.

Gainesville, Georgia

21. Gainesville, GA
> Personal income growth (2013-2014):
4.9%
> Per capita personal income: $36,714
> May unemployment rate: 4.1%
> Employment chg.: 3.2%

A significant part of Gainesville’s increased income may have come from the metro area’s arts and entertainment sector. Employment in the industry increased 18.6% in 2014, while national employment in the sector grew by 3.7%. As total income grew in Gainesville, the area’s poverty rate declined. The metro area’s poverty rate fell from 21.9% in 2013 to 16.6% in 2014, the second-largest such improvement in the country.