Personal Income in the 2000s: Top and Bottom Ten Metropolitan Areas

The Top Ten: The strongest per capita personal income growth between 2000 and 2009 was in Baltimore, which had an inflation adjusted increase of 9.7 percent. This strong performance is not surprising due to Baltimore’s proximity to Washington and the federal government’s high paying jobs. It also receives spillover lucrative employment from federal contracts to health, defense and security companies. In fact, Baltimore did better than Washington. Washington, which extends from the District of Columbia and into Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Not that DC did badly; it boasted the third highest income growth, and 5.0 percent.

However, perhaps the biggest surprise is the metropolitan area that slipped into the number two position between Baltimore and Washington. The Pittsburgh metropolitan area, which may have faced the most severe economic challenges of any major metropolitan area over the past 40 years, achieved per capita personal income growth of 8.2 percent. The Pittsburgh gain is all the more significant in view of the local financing difficulties which placed the city of Pittsburgh in the near equivalent of bankruptcy under Pennsylvania’s Act 47. However, as is the case in on number of metropolitan areas, the central city has become much less dominant and no longer seals the fate of the larger metropolitan area. Today, the city of Pittsburgh accounts for only 15 percent of the metropolitan area population.

Overall, the South and the West captured nine of the bottom ten positions, while only one Midwestern metropolitan area, Detroit, broke into the bottom ten.

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