Special Report

10 Cities Where Incomes Are Shrinking the Fastest

Source: Wikimedia Commons

5. Enid, OK
> Income growth in 2015: -1.7%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 0.0%
> Per capita income: $45,838
> May unemployment rate: 3.9%

Shrinking personal income is usually reflective of a struggling economy overall. In Enid, however, the May unemployment rate of 3.9% was lower than the national rate and unusually low compared with other metro areas with shrinking incomes. As is generally the case among these cities with shrinking incomes, however, Enid’s per capita income of $45,838 remains higher than the national income level.

The 2015 income decline may not be a major cause for concern. According to the Enid Regional Development Alliance, the area is particularly amenable to agricultural businesses. Consolidated Grain and Barge, one of the region’s largest grain shippers, is located in the metro area.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Lafayette, LA
> Income growth in 2015: -2.0%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 9.0%
> Per capita income: $44,550
> May unemployment rate: 6.3%

Personal income dipped considerably in the Lafayette metro area in 2015. That year, total income in the area fell by 2.0% — only one year after climbing 4.6%. Falling incomes in the metro area coincided with worsening economic conditions for a considerable share of the population. The metro area’s poverty rate jumped from 16.3% in 2014 to 19.0% in 2015 — even as the poverty rate declined nationwide.

Lafayette is yet another metro area on this list depending heavily on energy-related sectors. A combined 29.2% of the metro area’s labor force work in the natural resource and mining and trade, transportation, and utilities sectors. Incomes in the area likely fell as these sectors’ output faltered.

Source: Andrew Farkas / Wikimedia Commons

3. Casper, WY
> Income growth in 2015: -3.2%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 38.0%
> Per capita income: $64,223
> May unemployment rate: 5.5%

The 3.2% decline in personal income in the Casper metro area marks a break from a longer-term trend. Between 2010 and 2015, incomes in the metro area soared 38.0%, more than in all but four other U.S. metro areas. In 2014 alone, incomes in Casper climbed by a nation-leading 12.0%.

Like many other cities on this list, Casper is heavily dependent on its oil and natural gas industry, and falling oil prices have hurt the metro area’s economy in recent years. Declining economic output in the energy sector likely caused a ripple effect, as the construction, trade, and transportation and utilities sectors were each a drag on economic growth in 2015.

Source: Lindsay Attaway / Flickr

2. Odessa, TX
> Income growth in 2015: -6.5%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 34.1%
> Per capita income: $43,070
> May unemployment rate: 4.8%

Like Midland, Odessa has experienced erratic economic shifts in recent years due to falling demand for fossil fuels and the recent dramatic drops in oil prices. So while in 2014 income earned in the area was up by 8.9%, and between 2010 and 2015 income was up by 34.1% — each among the fastest growths nationwide — incomes fell by 6.5% in 2015.

Unlike neighboring Midland, which reported unusually high GDP growth despite falling incomes, Odessa’s economy contracted sharply in 2015. The metro area’s natural resources and mining industry accounted for 1.3 percentage points of the near nation-leading 7.3% GDP decline. The industry employs 11.7% of Odessa’s labor force, versus the average share of workers employed nationwide in the sector of just 1.3%.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Midland, TX
> Income growth in 2015: -10.1%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 53.4%
> Per capita income: $95,616
> May unemployment rate: 3.5%

Despite reporting the strongest GDP growth of any metro area in 2015, personal incomes in Midland, Texas fell by 10.1% in 2015, by far the steepest such decline in the United States. The recent decline in personal income in the area marks a break from the longer-term trend. Between 2010 and 2015, personal income in Midland climbed 53.4%, the strongest increase of any U.S. metro area thanks to a booming oil business.

As crude oil prices tanked in 2014, however, oil-rich Midland began to feel the effect, and 2015 marked a downturn for the once booming town.