Income growth greatest in US tech hubs over past five years

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) — From the middle of the Obama administration to the midpoint of the Trump presidency, household income grew the most in tech and entertainment centres like Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and large chunks of the West Coast.

Congressional districts that attract highly educated workers around areas like Denver and Charlotte, North Carolina, were among the communities that saw mean household income rise the most from 2013 to 2018, according to new figures released yesterday by the United States (US) Census Bureau.

Other congressional districts that had the highest household income growth were in or around Houston; Pittsburgh; Provo, Utah; parts of South Florida and the wealthy retirement haven of Sarasota, Florida.

Most of the income growth in these areas came from wages, said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities.

“Metro areas tied to technology have tended to perform best, although global gateways and energy markets had their moment in the sun earlier in the decade,” Vitner said.

Heavy traffic moves away from and toward the downtown area of Nashville, Tenn. PHOTO: AP

Household income grew more in Democratic-leaning districts than Republican ones, according to an Associated Press analysis of the data by congressional districts. Household income grew by an average of more than USD12,000 in Democratic-leaning congressional districts, compared to more than USD9,000 in Republican-leaning districts.

What impact that has going into the 2020 elections remains to be seen, experts said.

“Surely new evidence of income level rises in coastal and more highly educated districts relative to others plays to the Democrats’ strength,” said William Frey, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.

“But it also makes clear they need to redouble their efforts to court non-college voters in less prosperous districts in the run-up to the 2020 election.”

The greater income growth in Democratic-leaning districts likely had to do with the fact that they’re in cities where incomes tend to be higher, Vitner said. “Republican districts tend to be more rural and have lower wages,” he said.

In some areas, the growth in household income was enormous. In House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district, located in San Francisco, the epicentre of the last decade’s tech boom, household income jumped by a third from almost USD110,500 to more than USD150,000.

In other areas, income growth was significantly more modest.

In the district that covers Huntington, West Virginia, average household income only went up five per cent to about USD52,500.