10. Anchorage, AK
> Per capita income growth in 2016: -3.9%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: -0.1%
> Per capita income: $48,031
> May 2018 unemployment: 6.5%
Alaska has some of the largest oil fields in the country and more proved oil reserves than all but three other states. With an economy heavily dependent on energy production, Alaska has been hit harder than most states by falling oil prices in recent years. In Anchorage, the largest city in the state, employment in oil and gas extraction fell by 22% from 2015 to 2016. Total wages in the sector fell by 23% over the same period. The industry’s decline likely contributed to the metro area’s 3.9% drop in per capita income across all sectors in 2016.
The metro area’s job market is not indicative of a healthy economy. Some 6.5% of the workforce in the Anchorage metro area is unemployed, nearly double the 3.8% U.S. unemployment rate.
9. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
> Per capita income growth in 2016: -5.1%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 1.8%
> Per capita income: $46,378
> May 2018 unemployment: 4.4%
Per capita income fell by 5.1% in the Houston metro area in 2016, a steeper drop than in all but eight other metro areas nationwide. The drop was likely due in large part to declines in the oil and gas extraction industry. Precipitated in part by falling oil prices, employment in oil and gas extraction fell by 12.1%, and total wages in the sector declined by 9.8% from 2015 to 2016.
Still, the decline in per capita income in 2016 was not large enough to completely offset the longer term trend of climbing income per capita. Over the last five years, per capita income increased by 1.8% in the Houston metro area.
8. Victoria, TX
> Per capita income growth in 2016: -5.2%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 2.9%
> Per capita income: $42,678
> May 2018 unemployment: 4.1%
As with most other Texas cities on this list, Victoria’s economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas extraction. As the price of oil fell to its lowest point in over a decade in 2016, Victoria’s energy sector took a hit. Employment in oil and gas extraction fell by 39.7% from 2015 to 2016, with total industry wages falling by 41.6% over the same period. The industry’s downsizing had broader economic implications, and across all sectors income per capita fell by 5.2% in Victoria in 2016.
Despite the recent decline, per capita income was 2.9% higher in Victoria in 2016 than it was half a decade earlier.
7. Casper, WY
> Per capita income growth in 2016: -5.3%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 21.0%
> Per capita income: $64,266
> May 2018 unemployment: 4.4%
Per capita income fell by 5.3% in the Casper metro area in 2016, the first year-over-year decline since the Great Recession. Despite the recent decline, incomes remain far higher in the Casper metro area than they were five years ago. Per capita income climbed 21% in Casper from 2011 to 2016, the sixth largest increase of any metro area in the country.
The oil and gas extraction industry accounts for more than one in every $10 in wages paid out to workers in the Casper metro area, and declining oil prices in 2016 likely largely explain the drop in income per capita in the metro area. As oil prices hit their lowest level in over a decade in 2016, the metro area’s oil and gas extraction sector shed 40% of its workforce and total wages in the industry fell by nearly 47%.
6. Midland, MI
> Per capita income growth in 2016: -6.4%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: -14.2%
> Per capita income: $40,822
> May 2018 unemployment: 4.3%
Along with Mankato, Minnesota, Midland, Michigan is one of only two Midwestern metro areas on this list. Per capita income fell by 6.4% in Midland in 2016. The decline is a part of a longer term trend as, with the exception of 2011, incomes have fallen in the metro area every year since the Great Recession. As it stands, the metro area’s per capita income of $40,822 is 14.2% lower than it was half a decade ago. For reference, per capita income is up 9.0% over the same period nationwide.
Despite falling income per capita, Midland households are less likely to be face serious financial hardship than those across the country. Some 8.2% of the population in Midland lives in poverty, one of the smallest shares of any metro area and well below the 14.0% national poverty rate. Similarly, only 4.5% of area households earn less than $10,000 per year compared to 6.7% of households nationwide.
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