Cities Where Incomes Are Growing the Fastest

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Income in the United States tends to grow more rapidly in and around major cities than in more rural areas. Real personal income in U.S. metro areas increased by 1.3% in 2016, six times the 0.2% growth in non-metro areas.

Urban economies vary by size, industrial composition, and presence of natural resources, and are each unique. And as such, income growth is not even from city to city.

Across the United States — in both urban and rural areas — per capita income climbed 0.4% in 2016. In some cities, however, per capita income growth topped 3% — with one metro area reporting per capita income growth above 6%.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed one-year change in per capita incomes in U.S. metro areas to identify the cities where incomes are growing the fastest. Per capita income is total personal income divided by the population.

Rapid per capita income growth does not necessarily mean these cities are thriving economically. Of the 25 cities on this list, only five have a higher per capita income than the United States as a whole. Additionally, despite climbing per capita income, most cities on this list have a higher unemployment rate than the national rate.

Click here to see the cities where incomes are growing the fastest.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously referred to Jackson, Michigan as Jackson, Mississippi. That error has been corrected.  

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

25. Lima, OH
> Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.0%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 8.0%
> Per capita income: $40,481
> May 2018 unemployment: 4.4%

Per capita income in the Lima, Ohio metro area grew 3.0% in 2016, from $39,315 to $40,481. Over the same period, U.S. income per capita rose from $44,255 to $44,450, a 0.4% increase. Like many cities where incomes are rising, Lima had major employment growth in advanced, high-wage industries over the past year. The number of professional and technical services jobs rose by 6.7% in 2016, more than twice the 2.5% growth in the sector nationwide. SImilarly, employment in real estate and rental and leasing grew by 7.8% in Lima, while sector employment grew 3.5% nationwide. The average annual wage increased by $1,828 in the professional and technical services sector and $3,088 in the real estate sector.

Source: Thinkstock

24. Provo-Orem, UT
> Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.0%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 24.8%
> Per capita income: $33,905
> May 2018 unemployment: 2.6%

Per capita income in the Provo-Orem metro area rose 3.0%, from $32,926 per capita in 2015 to $33,905 in 2016. Meanwhile, the U.S. income per capita rose from $44,255 to $44,450, a 0.4% increase. Income growth in the area may be due in part to falling unemployment. Since May 2015, the unemployment rate in Provo has fallen from 3.3% to 2.6%, nearly the lowest point in three decades.

One factor contributing to low unemployment and rising per capita income in Provo is the city’s strong tech sector. Provo is home to SIlicon Slopes, a growing cluster of technology companies that, together with Salt Lake City’s tech industry, led to Utah having the fastest tech job growth of any state over the past year. Today Vivint and Ancestry.com — two tech companies in Silicon Slope.– are the third and fourth largest employers in Provo.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

23. Madera, CA
> Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.0%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 21.5%
> Per capita income: $35,954
> May 2018 unemployment: 7.0%

Incomes in the Madera metro area have increased steadily over the past decade. Per capita income rose 3.0%, from $34,894 in 2015 to $35,954 in 2016, nearly seven times the 0.4% national increase. Since 2009 income per capita in Madera has risen by 34.6%, the fifth largest increase of any metro area during that time.

Income growth in Madera is partially due to the metro area’s budding construction boom. Under the Rio Mesa Area Plan, Madera County has made made provisions for the construction of as many as 30,000 new homes over 30 years and a new city-sized development on the west side of Highway 41. Employment in the construction sector increased by 28.1% in 2016, and the average annual wage in the sector rose by $4,214, each among the largest increase of any metro area.

Source: Meinzahn / Getty Images

22. Lake Charles, LA
> Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.0%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 18.8%
> Per capita income: $46,070
> May 2018 unemployment: 3.7%

Per capita income in the Lake Charles metro area increased 3.0%, from $44,709 in 2015 to $46,070 in 2016, one of the largest spikes of any U.S. city. Over the same period, the national income per capita rose from $44,255 to $44,450, a 0.4% increase.

Income growth in the Lake Charles metro area is partially due to the area’s construction boom. The city has been the site of significant industrial investment in recent years, including gas-to-liquids refineries and the Golden Nugget Lake Charles casino. Employment in the construction sector rose by 32.7% in 2016, the largest increase of any city. The average annual wage in the Lake Charles construction sector rose $2,193, a larger increase than in a majority of cities.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

21. Grand Forks, ND-MN
> Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.1%
> 5 yr. per capita income growth: 10.8%
> Per capita income: $46,306
> May 2018 unemployment: 2.6%

The 3.1% per capita income growth in the Grand Forks metropolitan area in 2016 represents a major improvement for the area, where per capita income declined in 2013 and 2014 and increased far less than the national economy did in 2015.

Grand Forks also has one of the healthiest job markets in the country. The state’s oil boom helped shield Grand Forks from the worst effects of the Great Recession, and unemployment in the metro area has continued to decline since peaking at 5.0% in September 2011. Today some 2.6% of the workforce is unemployed, far less than the 3.8% national rate and one of the lowest unemployment rates of any U.S. metro.