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Cities with the Fastest-Growing Incomes

Oct. 22, 2013
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Cities with the Fastest-Growing Incomes
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Prospective residents like to see positive income growth among a city’s workforce. A city that shows yearly growth in earnings offers reassurance of its economic health and opportunities for future growth. Cities with significant median personal income growth over a longer period send a signal that the local economy is on an upward trend.

To find the cities with the fastest-growing incomes, we looked at the growth in median earnings for workers from 2007 to 2011.

Check out our cost of living comparison tool for more information.

Cities with the Fastest-Growing Incomes

1. Chico, California

Chico is known as a college town, and the local colleges serve as important economic stimuli for the city. California State University, Chico (CSU Chico) provides a large flow of students into the local workforce. Butte College’s Training Place, located in Chico, offers employee training to local companies, which helps increase the number of skilled workers in the area. Chico’s City Council pledged in 2007 to support and strengthen the city’s economy by increasing its value to job seekers. By working with local businesses, encouraging local investment and improving the physical conditions of the city, it’s raising quality of life for the entire city. Earnings for workers grew an enormous 32 percent from 2007 to 2011.

2. Greeley, Colorado

Greeley is a fast-growing city in northern Colorado with a unique culture. In 2009, Greeley’s Office of Economic Development and Economic Development Advisory Committee put forth a strategic plan to improve the local economy by bringing more business and diverse industries to the area. In addition, by supporting community education and leadership, they hope to continue making Greeley “Great, From the Ground Up.” The University of Northern Colorado contributes to the economic and cultural health of Greeley by supporting local businesses and by providing educational opportunities for the community that also attract outside visitors. The city experienced nearly 25 percent growth in earnings from 2007 to 2011.

3. Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham sits right near the Canadian border, enjoying gorgeous lake and mountainside views. In May, Mayor Kelli Linville detailed how Bellingham officials are working to make the city more economically vibrant by achieving strategic partnerships, retaining businesses, pursuing city projects and maintaining community values. The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry focuses on the role of business in economic growth, and works directly to support the communities of Bellingham and Whatcom County. Earnings for workers grew more than 21 percent in Bellingham from 2007 to 2011.

4. Yorba Linda, California

Yorba Linda is a residential community in Orange County that has amenities like equestrian trails, golf courses and considerable park acreage. Yorba Linda’s Chamber of Commerce actively supports local business development and works to create better communication among local government, business and residents. Yorba Linda experienced earnings growth of just over 20 percent from 2007 to 2011, which brought the median earnings for workers to nearly $60,000. Top employers include the City of Yorba Linda and several retail businesses.

5. Norman, Oklahoma

Norman’s location near two major federal and two state highways serves as a convenient access point for travel by road. Businesses in a diverse set of industries have offices in Norman, including Agio (IT services), PCI (software) and Albon Engineering & Manufacturing. The University of Oklahoma, located in Norman, is a major employer in the city. The university’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth is an important partner in local and state economic development. The Norman Economic Development Coalition combines the efforts of several local groups to improve the city’s economy, and the city’s Chamber of Commerce works to increase economic opportunities and innovative business projects in Norman. Norman saw 19 percent growth in earnings for workers from 2007 to 2011.

6. Gainesville, Florida

Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, is located advantageously between the cities of Atlanta and Miami. The City of Gainesville plays a major role in developing the local economy, aided by the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency, which works to revitalize and encourage investment in several areas of the city. The University of Florida is a major employer in the city and its Innovation Square business and research community, set between the university and downtown Gainesville, is supporting local businesses and startups (at the Innovation Hub), and attracting new investors to the area. Gainesville saw nearly 19 percent growth in earnings for workers from 2007 to 2011.

7. Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville has a population nearing 200,000 and a semi-tropical climate that provides residents with good weather year-round. Education and manufacturing are major industries in Brownsville, and top employers include the Brownsville Independent School District, the University of Texas at Brownsville, Keppel AmFELS and the City of Brownsville. The University of Texas at Brownsville’s Division of Economic Development and Community Services is dedicated to local economic development. The city has seen steady job growth in recent years, led in large part by the efforts of the Brownsville Economic Development Council. The city experienced nearly 18 percent growth in earnings for workers from 2007 to 2011.

8. Syracuse, New York

Syracuse is a major destination for education, medicine and research, due to the various universities and medical centers there. Syracuse University, one of the city’s top employers, is a major contributor to the local economy, with payments to city businesses amounting to almost $75 million in 2012, according to a university economic report. The city has several local agencies that work to improve various aspects of the economy, including the Syracuse Economic Development Corporation, the Syracuse Local Development Corporation and the Syracuse Industrial Development Corporation. Earnings for workers grew 17.5 percent from 2007 to 2011.

9. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is famous for its food, music and lively atmosphere. The city promotes economic growth through the Office of Economic Development and, in partnership with the New Orleans Business Alliance, launched the ProsperityNOLA plan to accelerate economic improvement through 2018. The University of New Orleans helps spur business development in the technology and research industries through its Research and Technology Park. Other major industries in New Orleans include energy, education, health care, manufacturing and tourism. The city saw 15.6 percent growth in earnings for workers from 2007 to 2011.

10. Tyler, Texas

Tyler is a hub for a varied industries, including education, research and health care, and boasts an active tech startup scene. In 2009, the Tyler Leadership Roundtable began the Industry Growth Initiative, a plan to help the city evolve into an “Innovation Economy” by developing a highly skilled workforce and entrepreneurial culture. The University of Texas at Tyler’s Hibbs Institute for Business and Economic Research is a key player in the growth of Tyler and the rest of East Texas, providing important information resources that support economic development. Earnings for workers grew 14.5 percent from 2007 to 2011.


Rank City 2007 median earnings for workers 2011 median earnings for workers Growth in median income
1 Chico, California $15,898 $20,979 32.0%
2 Greeley, Colorado $20,966 $26,129 24.6%
3 Bellingham, Washington $18,535 $22,437 21.1%
4 Yorba Linda, California $49,582 $59,690 20.4%
5 Norman, Oklahoma $20,902 $24,872 19.0%
6 Gainesville, Florida $15,539 $18,450 18.7%
7 Brownsville, Texas $17,192 $20,252 17.8%
8 Syracuse, New York $18,015 $21,170 17.5%
9 New Orleans, Louisiana $22,262 $25,725 15.6%
10 Tyler, Texas $21,740 $24,900 14.5%
11 Mobile, Alabama $23,121 $26,415 14.2%
12 Victorville, California $26,054 $29,740 14.1%
13 Merced, California $20,878 $23,742 13.7%
14 Clearwater, Florida $25,434 $28,918 13.7%
15 Mountain View, California $55,052 $61,322 11.4%
16 Fargo, North Dakota $23,021 $25,616 11.3%
17 Washington, District of Columbia $42,041 $46,112 9.7%
18 Olathe, Kansas $36,104 $39,489 9.4%
19 Knoxville, Tennessee $23,638 $25,850 9.4%
20 Pasadena, California $35,135 $38,281 9.0%

Data taken from the US Census. 483 cities were included in this analysis.

Businessman and watering pot image courtesy of Shutterstock.