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Top US cities where incomes are growing the fastest

Indiana had several cities on the list of list of U.S. cities seeing wage growth. | Adobe Stock Photo

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 percent in 2016, six times the 0.2 percent 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 percent in 2016. In some cities, however, per capita income growth topped 3 percent — with one metro area reporting per capita income growth above 6%.

24/7 Wall Street 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.

10. Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.6%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 15.5%
  • Per capita income: $37,909
  • May 2018 unemployment: 2.1%

Employment in the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina metro area’s private sector climbed by 1.8 percent in 2016, while total wages increased 4.4 percent. Partially as a result, the metro area has one of the lowest unemployment rates in country at just 2.1 percent. Similarly, the metro area’s 3.6 percent per capita income growth in 2016 was faster than all but nine other U.S. metro areas.

9. Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.7%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 7.1%
  • Per capita income: $35,808
  • May 2018 unemployment: 3.2%

Lafayette-West Lafayette is one of four Indiana metro areas to report near nation-leading per capita income growth in 2016. Per capita income climbed 3.7 percent, from $34,540 in 2015 to $35,808 in 2016.

As is the case in the other Indiana metro areas on this list, Lafayette-West Lafayette is a major manufacturing hub and home to facilities of several major companies including, Caterpillar, General Electric, and Subaru.

8. Bay City, Michigan

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.7%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 9.2%
  • Per capita income: $41,160
  • May 2018 unemployment: 5.1%

Bay City is one of three Michigan metro areas that had near nation-leading growth in per capita income in 2016. Per capita income in the metro area rose to $41,160 in 2016, up 3.7 percent from $39,675 in 2015.

Like many other Midwestern metro areas on this list, Bay City has a substantial manufacturing sector.

7. Elkhart-Goshen, Indiana

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.8%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 24.7%
  • Per capita income: $41,982
  • May 2018 unemployment: 2.4%

Known as the “RV Capital of the World,” Elkhart is responsible for producing the majority of the world’s RVs. Some 50.7 percent of the Elkhart-Goshen workforce is employed in manufacturing, the largest share of any city. Elkhart’s economy struggled during the Great Recession as the national manufacturing industry contracted — the area’s unemployment rate rose from 4.3 percent in June 2007 to a recessionary peak of 19.6 percent in April 2009. However, thanks to a rebounding RV market there has been a resurgence in manufacturing activity in the metro area in recent years.

6. Bloomington, Indiana

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 3.8%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 11.9%
  • Per capita income: $35,772
  • May 2018 unemployment: 3.7%

Like a number of Indiana metropolitan areas, Bloomington had one of the largest increases in income per capita in the country in 2016 at 3.8 percent. It was the second straight year that per capita income grew by at least that much. In 2015, per capita income increased by 4.9%.

5. Morristown, Tennessee

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 4.1%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 9.7%
  • Per capita income: $39,351
  • May 2018 unemployment: 3.6%

Some 25.4 percent of Morristown’s workforce is employed in manufacturing, one of the largest shares of any U.S. city. Like many cities dependent on manufacturing, Morristown suffered substantial economic decline during the Great Recession. Unemployment rose from 4.3 percent in June 2007 to 13.3 percent in June 2009.

4. East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 4.5%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 11.8%
  • Per capita income: $36,534
  • May 2018 unemployment: 4.9%

Per capita income growth has been has been inconsistent in the East Stroudsburg metropolitan area. Total area income per resident fell more than in most other metro areas in 2010 and 2012, but rose the eighth most of any metro area in 2013, and the fourth most in 2016. Overall, however, per capita income is up by 11.8 percent over the five years ending in 2016.

3. Muncie, Indiana

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 4.8%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 15.6%
  • Per capita income: $35,993
  • May 2018 unemployment: 3.9%

Muncie is one of many Rust Belt cities in which the growth of new industries and the shift from manufacturing to education, health care, and other service-driven sectors has contributed to economic recovery and income growth. While unemployment in Munie rose from 5.1 percent in June 2007 to a post-recession peak of 12.2 percent in March 2010, the share of unemployed workers has since fallen to 3.9 percent — in line with the 3.8 percent national jobless rate.

In addition to a strengthening job market, a shrinking population helped boost per capita income on Muncie.

2. Yuma, Arizona

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 5.0%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 17.1%
  • Per capita income: $33,140
  • May 2018 unemployment: 16.2%

Yuma, Arizona’s 5 percent increase in per capita income is the second largest such increase among metropolitan areas in 2016. Even more impressively, the area’s 9.9 percent per capita income growth in 2015 was the largest such increase among the nation’s metropolitan areas that year.

1. Jacksonville, North Carolina

  • Per capita income growth in 2016: 6.5%
  • 5 yr. per capita income growth: 1.6%
  • Per capita income: $46,514
  • May 2018 unemployment: 4.6%

Jacksonville had the largest increase in per capita income growth in the country, but that increase is only effectively a rebound from the preceding half decade. Per capita income in the metropolitan area either declined or trailed national growth each year from 2011 through 2015. Between 2010 and 2016, per capita income in the metro area increased by a net of just 1.6 percent.