|Other big winners include Southern metro areas like Austin, TX, which climbed from #40
to #15 on the strength of the countrys largest increase in median income, a jump of
more than $12,000. Poverty here also dropped by nearly 5%, indicating that the Austin
metro areas economic prosperity reached those in the lowest income brackets. Dallas,
Fort Worth, San Antonio, Phoenix, Nashville, and New Orleans also climbed in the rankings.
But improvement was not uniform across the South, with Charlotte, Greensboro, Orlando, and
Fort Lauderdale all dropping several notches.
In Northern California, the dot.com prosperity of the 1990s is reflected in income figures for San Jose, CA, the original center of Silicon Valley. San Jose climbed to #1 in the overall ranking with an increase of $12,000 in median income. San Francisco, too, improved its ranking, as median income jumped nearly $11,000.
But some of the worst losses were also found in California. Los Angeles has the unfortunate distinction of having suffered the greatest decline in median income - down more than $3,000 - of all the nations 331 metro areas. At the same time, poverty jumped by nearly 3% in Los Angeles. San Diego is the metro area among the largest 50 that fell furthest in the overall rankings, from #19 in 1990 to #36 in 2000.
Some metro areas in the Northeast also slumped, particularly in the greater New York metropolis where gains in business and financial services were highly touted in the 1990s. The highly ranked all-suburban metros here both dropped: Nassau-Suffolk, NY fell from 1st to 2nd place, while Bergen-Passaic, NJ fell from 4th to 7th. Newark, NJ went from 11th to 13th. The New York metro itself (including New York City and its northern suburbs) fell from 46th to 48th.
A slight overall drop in unemployment in the Northeast contributed little to prosperity, suggesting that a large share of the employment growth was in lower wage jobs. An example of this phenomenon is the Boston metro area where unemployment dropped from 6.2% to 4.3%, while poverty increased from 8.1% to 8.6%.
Prosperity Widely Shared in 16 Metro Areas
Besides the MPI ranking of overall prosperity, another way to gauge success in the 1990s is whether improvements were widely shared. The 16 highlighted metro areas in Table 2 gave the best economic performance. In these metro areas median income rose at the same rate or higher than the national average and poverty decreased three times as much. Austin, TX fits this profile, the metro area where median income climbed more than anywhere else, while poverty dropped the most.
No metro area in the Northeast or in California is on this list. Three are located in the West - Denver, CO, Phoenix, AZ and Salt Lake City, UT. The rest are equally divided between the South and Midwest. In South they are: Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, TX, Nashville, TN, and New Orleans, LA. In the Midwest, Minneapolis, MN, Kansas, City, MO, Detroit, MI, Columbus and Cincinnati, OH, Indianapolis, IN, and Milwaukee, WI gave the best performances.