Special Report

10 Cities Where Incomes Are Shrinking the Fastest

Source: Thinkstock

5. Bend-Redmond, OR
> Income growth in 2015: 8.5%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 33.8%
> Per capita income: $42,084
> May unemployment rate: 3.6%

Personal income growth in the Bend-Redmond metro area in 2015 is part of a longer-term trend. Income in the area climbed by 33.8% since 2010, clocking an 8.5% growth in 2015 alone. Major employers that have either popped up in the metro area or expanded within the last few years include Epic Aircraft, an experimental aircraft designer and manufacturer, business solutions company BASX, and a Facebook Data Center. Combined, these organizations alone have created hundreds of jobs within the last few years. Not surprisingly, both the professional and business services and information sectors drove GDP growth in the metro area in 2015.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Sioux Falls, SD
> Income growth in 2015: 8.6%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 20.7%
> Per capita income: $53,360
> May unemployment rate: 2.5%

The 8.6% income growth in the Sioux Falls metro area in 2015 appears to have disproportionately benefited the wealthy. From 2014 to 2015, the metro area’s poverty rate climbed from 9.7% to 11.5%. Over the same period, the share of households earning $200,000 or more a year also increased from 3.6% to 4.1%.

Income growth was likely driven in large part by considerable growth in the finance and real estate sector — a generally high-paying industry — as well as the education and healthcare and constructions sectors, which are industries that tend to thrive with population growth. The Sioux Falls population grew by 1.6% in 2015, more than double the comparable U.S. population growth.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Yuma, AZ
> Income growth in 2015: 8.7%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 13.8%
> Per capita income: $31,190
> May unemployment rate: 17.2%

Fast growing personal income in an area does not necessarily mean incomes are high, or even that the economy is doing especially well. In fact, several of the cities with the fastest-growing incomes are among the poorest regions in the country. Yuma is one such area. Even after near nation-leading income growth in 2015, the metro area’s per capita income of $31,190 is the seventh lowest income level nationwide.

Incomes earned in Yuma grew by 13.8% between 2010 and 2015, lower than the national average growth of 15.2%. In 2014, total income fell by 0.5%, making Yuma the only city on this list where incomes declined in 2014.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Sebring, FL
> Income growth in 2015: 9.1%
> Income growth 2010-2015: 9.9%
> Per capita income: $35,790
> May unemployment rate: 5.9%

Nearly all recent earnings and workforce growth in the Sebring metro area occurred in 2015, as personal income remained relatively flat between 2010 and 2014. Although incomes in Sebring grew considerably in 2015, the Sebring metro area per capita income of $35,790 annually remains much lower than in the vast majority of metro areas. Sebring’s mining sector was a primary contributor to the area’s GDP growth of 3.4% in 2015, which was well above the national average GDP growth that year of 2.5%. Approximately 8.8% of the area’s workforce is employed in natural resources and mining occupations, versus the national average percentage of 1.3%.

Sebring residents do not have high incomes. More than 10% households in Sebring have incomes of $10,000 or less, versus the national average percentage of 6.9%. The typical home value is $92,600, nearly the lowest in the nation but also a possible explanation for the area’s exceptionally high homeownership rate of 75%.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Carson City, NV
> Income growth in 2015: 9.9%
> Income growth 2010-2015: -0.8%
> Per capita income: $41,804
> May unemployment rate: 5.0%

Carson City residents earned nearly $2.3 billion in 2015, a 9.9% increase from 2014. The area’s income growth rate was more than double the national growth and the largest of all U.S. metro areas. Unlike other cities on this list, the strong one-year income growth was not enough to offset the income decline between 2010 and 2015. Population growth, which usually results in added income was not a significant factor in Carson City’s income growth. This means that area workers likely received raises. At the same time, the strong income growth can be partially attributed to the fact that Carson City has a small population. At 54,742 people, it is the smallest of all U.S. metro areas, and with so few residents, small changes can appear relatively large.

According to the Carson City Chamber of Commerce, the area is a hub for Nevada’s manufacturing operations. Most of the area’s manufacturers are based in the Airport Industrial Park, and the top manufacturing industries include electronics, transportation, and machinery.