America's Most Prosperous Cities

Many indicators of the U.S. economy -- low unemployment, rising GDP, stock market performance -- point to good times overall. But not everyone is reaping the benefits: Inclusive economic growth is apparently rare in American cities, according to a recent report by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

The report, Metro Monitor 2019, analyzes trends for the 100 largest U.S. metro areas in growth (size and dynamism of the regional economy), prosperity (average wealth and income the regional economy produces), inclusion (how changes in growth and prosperity are distributed among the region's individuals and households), and racial inclusion (whether regional changes in inclusion expand or narrow differences, such as wages, by race and ethnicity).

Looking at the most prosperous cities across the decade from 2007 to 2017, most of the 100 largest metro areas achieved greater prosperity in 2017 than 2007, though progress was uneven, the report says.

Compared to 2007, 83 metro areas had higher productivity, 95 had higher average wages, and 65 had a higher standard of living in 2017.

Leading tech hubs such as Austin, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle saw some of the strongest prosperity gains over the decade.

As for growth, the fastest-growing metro areas over the 10-year period includes these tech hubs and other emerging tech cities. But other cities have not not fully recovered from the job losses in manufacturing that occurred before and during the recession.

In contrast to their progress in growth and prosperity over the 10 years, metro areas showed uneven outcomes on inclusion, which addresses how all this growth and prosperity are distributed among individuals. Inclusive growth means more people in the area invest in their skills and purchase more goods and services. This in turn contributes to the prosperity of the area. Of 100 metros, 72 achieved declines in relative poverty.

Lastly, 16 metro areas saw notable increases in racial gaps for median earnings. A few metro areas, such as Des Moines, Iowa, El Paso, Texas, and Spokane, Wash. managed to close the racial earnings and poverty gaps due to strong employment growth for non-white groups.

Based on the Metro Monitor 2019, these are the most prosperous cities in the U.S. over the decade of 2007-2017.

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1. San Jose-Sunnyvale, Calif.
1. San Jose-Sunnyvale, Calif.

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale, Calif.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +19.3%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +31.5%

Ranking the most prosperous, the Silicon Valley metro increased productivity by 37.3% in the 10-year period, and standard of living by 44.7%. But despite the success, San Jose-Sunnyvale ranks dead last out of 100 cities for inclusion by race, with the median earnings gap between whites and people of color increasing by $8,612 between 2007-2017.

Photo: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

2. Seattle- Tacoma, Wash.
2. Seattle- Tacoma, Wash.

2. Seattle- Tacoma, Wash.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +13.4%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +20.6%

The Seattle metro, home base of Amazon.com (AMZN - Get Report) , pictured, increased productivity by 17.8% in 10 years. The median wage gap between whites and people of color increased by $1,347 over the decade.

Photo: Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock

3. San Francisco - Oakland - Hayward, Calif.
3. San Francisco - Oakland - Hayward, Calif.

3. San Francisco - Oakland - Hayward, Calif.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +16.9%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +20.2%

Despite its prosperity, San Francisco, like San Jose, also increased the wage gap between whites and people of color, ranking No. 98 in that category. The wage gap increased by $6,680 from 2007-2017.

Photo: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

4. Albany-Schenectady-Troy N.Y.
4. Albany-Schenectady-Troy N.Y.

4. Albany-Schenectady-Troy N.Y.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +3.9%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +10.9%

Albany's standard of living increased by 22.1% in the 10-year period.

Photo: Shutterstock

5. Oklahoma City
5. Oklahoma City

5. Oklahoma City

  • Percentage change in jobs: +7%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +11.9%

Oklahoma City increased its GMP, the total value of goods and services, by 27.3%. The GMP includes wages and profits.

Photo: iStock

6. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.
6. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

6. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +1.7%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +8.2%

Buffalo ranked No. 2 overall for inclusion, which addresses how all this growth and prosperity is distributed among individuals. This inclusive growth means more people in the area invest in their skills and purchase more goods and services. This in turn contributes to the prosperity of the area. The employment rate here increased by 5% over the 10-year period.

Photo: Shutterstock

7. Pittsburgh
7. Pittsburgh

7. Pittsburgh

  • Percentage change in jobs: +0.5%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +10.1%

While growth here wasn't stellar (rank No. 70) Pittsburgh ranked No. 7 overall for prosperity, with the boost in average annual wage and standard of living increasing by 15%.

Photo: Shutterstock

8. Syracuse, N.Y.
8. Syracuse, N.Y.

8. Syracuse, N.Y.

  • Percentage change in jobs: -2.7%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +7.7%

Syracuse also had somewhat unimpressive growth with the drop in jobs, but surging prosperity as in the boost in wages. Jobs at firms younger than five years old dropped by over 27%. Productivity here increased by nearly 17%.

Photo: Tommy Liggett / Shutterstock

9. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
9. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

9. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

  • Percentage change in jobs: +29.6%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +11.5%

Austin ranks No. 1 for growth overall, No. 9 for prosperity, and No. 4 for inclusion overall. The city had a slight decrease (.6%) in the employment rate gap between whites and people of color.

Photo: GSPhotography / Shutterstock

10. Madison, Wis.
10. Madison, Wis.

10. Madison, Wis.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +8.6%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +11.2%

Median earnings in Madison rose by 7.2% in the 10-year period.

Photo: Shutterstock

11. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.
11. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

11. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +17.2%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +9.0%

Photo: Shutterstock

12. Provo-Orem, Utah
12. Provo-Orem, Utah

12. Provo-Orem, Utah

  • Percentage change in jobs: +29.6%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +11.2%

Provo saw a drop in the earnings gap between whites and people of color, with that gap decreasing by $5,420.

Photo: Shutterstock

13. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.
13. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.

13. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +11.0%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +8.8%

Photo: Shutterstock

14. Charleston, S.C.
14. Charleston, S.C.

14. Charleston, S.C.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +17.0%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +10.6%

Photo: Shutterstock

15. Knoxville, Tenn.
15. Knoxville, Tenn.

15. Knoxville, Tenn.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +5.2%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +7.3%

Photo: Shutterstock

16. Raleigh, N.C.
16. Raleigh, N.C.

16. Raleigh, N.C.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +18.8%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +9.7%

Photo: Shutterstock

17. Rochester, N.Y.
17. Rochester, N.Y.

17. Rochester, N.Y.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +1.7%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +3.9%

Rochester ranked in the bottom 10 for inclusion by race: the wage gap here increased by $2,836.

Photo: Shutterstock

18. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.
18. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.

18. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +5.2%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +7.3%

Baltimore also ranked in the bottom 10 for the racial wage gap, which increased by $4,158.

Photo: Shutterstock

19. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.
19. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

19. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +2.2%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +9.9%

Chattanooga ranked in the top 20 for prosperity, inclusion and inclusion by race, narrowing both the racial wage gap and the racial employment rate gap.

Photo: Shutterstock

20. Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.
20. Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

20. Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +2.8%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +6.2%

Photo: aceshot1 / Shutterstock

21. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.,Wash.
21. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.,Wash.

21. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore., Wash.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +12.6%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +11.7%

Portland was the only metro area that managed to narrow its racial gaps on all three dimensions of inclusion by statistically significant margins in 2017, according to Brookings.

Photo: ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock

22. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, S.C.
22. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, S.C.

22. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, S.C.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +8.6%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +9.5%

Greenville was second only to Des Moines, Iowa, in reducing that racial wage gap by $5,634.

Photo: Alan Stoddard / Shutterstock

23. Augusta-Richmond County, Ga., S.C.
23. Augusta-Richmond County, Ga., S.C.

23. Augusta-Richmond County, Ga., S.C.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +6.1%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +7.9%

While the average annual wage went up, some were left behind: this metro ranked dead last for median earnings, which dropped by 15.3%.

Photo: Shutterstock

24. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Co.
24. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Co.

24. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Co.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +18.0%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +8.2%

Photo: photo.ua / Shutterstock

25. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb., Iowa
25. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb., Iowa

25. Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb., Iowa

  • Percentage change in jobs: +7.4%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +6.1%

Photo: Shutterstock

26. Baton Rouge, La.
26. Baton Rouge, La.

26. Baton Rouge, La.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +5.6%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +11.0%

Photo: Roberto Michel / Shutterstock

27. Columbus, Ohio
27. Columbus, Ohio

27. Columbus, Ohio

  • Percentage change in jobs: +10.9%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +6.0%

Photo: Shutterstock

28. Scranton - Wilkes-Barre - Hazleton, Penn.
28. Scranton - Wilkes-Barre - Hazleton, Penn.

28. Scranton - Wilkes-Barre - Hazleton, Penn.

  • Percentage change in jobs: +0.4%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +5.8%

Photo: Noel Biesecker / Shutterstock

29. Honolulu, Hawaii
29. Honolulu, Hawaii

29. Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Percentage change in jobs: +4.4%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +8.8%

Photo: PhotPhillip B. Espinasse / Shutterstock

30. San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas
30. San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas

30. San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas

  • Percentage change in jobs: +20.9%
  • Percentage change in average annual wage: +8.4%

Look up your city to find data for the metro area and see what changes took place in the areas of growth, prosperity and inclusion over 10 years or one year by visiting the interactive dashboard at Brookings.

Photo: Shutterstock

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