Positive income growth for people who work in a city is an important factor in its value to prospective residents.
A city that demonstrates yearly growth in the earnings of its workers provides a reassurance of its economic health and presents an opportunity for more growth in the future.
Cities with significant median personal income growth over a longer period send a signal that the local economy is in an upward trend.
To find the cities with the fastest growing incomes, we looked at the growth in median earnings for workers in the period between 2007 and 2011.
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 labor force. 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, they are raising quality of life for the entire city. Earnings for workers grew an enormous 32 percent between 2007 and 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 attract visitors from outside the area. The city experienced nearly 25 percent growth in earnings between 2007 and 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 beneficial city projects and maintaining community values.
The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry focuses on the role of business in economic growth, but also works directly to support the community of Bellingham and Whatcom County. Earnings for workers grew more than 21 percent in Bellingham between 2007 and 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 between local government, business and residents.
Yorba Linda experienced earnings growth of just over 20 percent between 2007 and 2011, which brought the median earnings for workers to nearly $60,000 for that year. 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 between 2007 and 2011.
6. Gainesville, Florida
Gainesville, home to the University of Florida, is located advantageously between the major cities of Atlanta and Miami. The City of Gainesville plays a major role in the development of 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 between 2007 and 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, lead in large part by the efforts of the Brownsville Economic Development Council. The city experienced nearly 18 percent growth in earnings for workers between 2007 and 2011.
8. Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is a major destination for education, medicine and research, due to the various universities and medical centers located 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 between 2007 and 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 between 2007 and 2011.
10. Tyler, Texas
Tyler is a hub for a varied set of 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” through development of 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 by providing important informational resources that support economic development. Earnings for workers grew 14.5 percent between 2007 and 2011.