The economy certainly looks and feels like it's recovering, and now there's yet more evidence that the improvement has taken hold nationwide. The Commerce Department reported Monday that personal income rose in all 366 of the nation's metropolitan statistical areas for the first time since 2007. Odessa, Texas, saw the largest growth in total personal income, at 14.8 percent, while Rochester, Minn., saw the slowest growth in income, at 1 percent.
According to the report, different industries account for some of the wide variances in growth. Western Texas, home to Odessa and neighboring Midland (the city with the second-fastest total income growth), is benefiting from the recent oil boom. Meanwhile, growth in Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, slowed from last year's 7 percent, due in part to lower earnings in healthcare.
Those figures at the high and low ends of the spectrum show wide variance from national income growth, which was at 5.2 percent last year, pushing total U.S. income to nearly $13 trillion. That is an encouraging acceleration from 2010's 3.8 percent, especially since it outstripped inflation, which was at 2.4 percent in 2011, according to the Commerce Department.
These numbers measure total personal income for all residents, a figure that can be too large or abstract to be meaningful at a glance — $13 trillion in national income is simply tough to conceive of, as can the idea that, for example, the Peoria, Ill., metro area has annual personal income of $16.6 billion. But on a per capita level it's easier to comprehend: Peoria's per capita income is nearly $43,700, just over the national average of nearly $41,600. And even while those figures are similar, the growth rates are far different. Per capita income in Peoria grew by a remarkably fast 8.5 percent in 2011, making it one of the cities with the fastest growth last year. U.S. per capita income, meanwhile, grew by 4.4 percent in 2011.
The figures for per capita income growth are similar to those for total income — Odessa and Midland still rank at the top, with Rochester at the bottom, joined by Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.
Below are the 10 metro areas with the fastest growth in per capita income from 2010 to 2011.
|Metro Area||Per Capita Income||
Percent Change from 2010
|Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa||$39,195||8.1|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.||$61,028||7.6|
And these are the 10 metro areas where per capita income grew the most slowly:
|Metro Area||Per Capita Income||Percent Change from 2010|
|Las Cruces, N.M.||$29,963||1.8|
|Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, S.C.||$29,148||2.2|
|Carson City, Nev.||$39,833||2.3|
|New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La.||$43,603||2.5|
As was the case for total personal income, per capita incomes were up in all 366 metro areas last year. However, though all cities saw a boost in income, that doesn't mean good times everywhere. The Commerce Department also reported Monday on income growth in counties nationwide. And though personal income grew in a vast majority of U.S. counties — 3,062 of 3,113, to be exact — there were some painful contractions. Lynn County, in northern Texas, saw total personal income shrink by 28.8 percent last year.
Nearby King County, meanwhile, had the fastest growth in the nation, with income growth of over 62 percent. The Upper Plains also had a great year, as growing farm income made that region the home to 45 of the 50 counties with the fastest income growth, with 41 of those counties located in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.
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Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.