(Bloomberg) — The New York city area may boast the largest share of personal income in the U.S., but pay is growing the fastest in the much smaller oil-boom towns of Odessa and Midland, Texas, according to new Commerce Department data.
Indeed, Midland’s per capita personal income of more than $122,000 a year was higher than that of San Jose, San Francisco, Boston or New York last year, the data show. Midland and Odessa — bases for Permian basin shale production — have benefited from a boom that last year drove the U.S. to surpass Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer.
Still, personal income in the New York-Newark-Jersey City area last year rose to almost $1.5 trillion, or 8.3% of the U.S. total — the largest share in the U.S. The NYC metro area was followed by Los Angeles with a 4.8% share and Chicago at 3.3%. Among the top 20 largest, Denver surpassed Riverside, California for the 18th spot last year.
For the fifth year in a row, metropolitan areas in the U.S. outpaced rural and small towns in per capita personal income — total pay divided by population.
Metro areas increased 4.9% in 2018, up from 4.1% in 2017. In non-metro areas, per capita personal income increased 4.7%, up from 3.3%. The five year streak is the longest in records going back 50 years.
Per capita personal income last year averaged $56,527 for Americans living in metropolitan areas and $41,552 for those in smaller regions.
Two Texas Oil Towns Among Metros With Fastest Population Growth
In terms of growth, Midland and Odessa, Texas, outpaced all 374 metro areas with the fastest growth, at 17.4% and 14.6% respectively. Midland leads the country in per capita personal income, too, with an average of $122,247 in 2018 — almost $96,000 higher than the lowest ranked McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, metro area.
Not surprisingly, Midland’s riches are drawing people to the city. It led all metro areas in population growth last year with a 4.4% gain. By contrast, populations in more than one in five metro areas shrank last year.
The trend could change, however. A recent drop in energy rigs in the area — a sign of future activity — has coincided with the moderation of job opportunities and in some cases a drop wages, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
The Commerce Department data released last week show that non-metro areas continue the slide as a share of overall personal income. Last year, just 10.6% of overall U.S. personal income came from non-metro areas — the smallest share since at least 1969.
From 2016 to 2018, per capita income in Midland grew by 28%. Among the top 5 areas where income grew fastest over the last two years, three are in Texas.