For the first time since the most recent recession began, the nation experienced an annual increase of median household income, according to new Census data.
The U.S. median household income grew 5.2% between 2014 and 2015. The subsequent figure of $56,516 landed just 1.6% shy of the 2007 median.
Among regions, the West anchored much of the growth, with a 6.4% increase. The South, at 2.9%, realized the slowest growth. One southern market, however, claimed the top metro-level growth in the country. Observing the 25 most populous metropolitan areas, Atlanta managed a 7.1% year-over-year swing in median household income.
Atlanta’s income growth parallels strong employment gains from mid-2014 through mid-2015. During that period, Atlanta gained an average of 92,000 jobs annually, growing the employment base nearly 4%. The increase in income can partially be credited to a steady rise in the Professional/Business Services employment segment, which accounts for nearly a fifth of Atlanta’s total employees. Since 2014, the sector has expanded by more than 12%.
Less surprising is the San Francisco-Oakland area’s ranking. The area landed in the #2 spot, with median household income growth registering at 6.2%. The market’s employment climate demonstrates continued momentum typical of northern California metros since the recession.
Several of the metro areas with the fastest income growth also had the highest median incomes in 2015. The top four spots were made up of such areas, and that have relatively high costs of living.
Washington, DC topped the list, with median income of $93,297, followed by San Francisco-Oakland, Boston and Seattle. DC neighbor Baltimore also made the list, as did Denver and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Both Denver and the Twin Cities boast strong local economies with very low unemployment.