A new economic analysis by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP) has revealed that Austin-Round Rock has the second most prosperous local economy in the nation. The analysis ranked the 50 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the U.S. based on several localized economic factors.
According to Austin's data, the region's population has skyrocketed 32 percent within the last decade, now reaching over 2.42 million people. The median age of an Austin-Round Rock resident is 36.8-years-old.
The three main criteria that determined Austin's prospering rank include a "True Living Cost" metric that tracks price changes for essential household necessities; a "True Weekly Earnings" calculation that determines the median weekly earnings of all workers (including part-timers and those who are unemployed); and a "True Rate of Unemployment Out of the Population" metric that measures the percentage of people unable to find full-time employment with a living wage.
The findings show that about two thirds of all Austin-Round Rock households are earning enough income to afford their basic needs. The remaining 33.5 percent are struggling due to a high cost of living, the report said — and that was actually the lowest number amongst the top 20, at least.
"The total costs of necessities for a 4-person family [in Austin-Round Rock] increased 58.2 percent since 2005 from $55,338 to $87,525," the report said.
However, Austinites are bringing home higher weekly earnings than in years past. Austin workers are earning a median $1,126 per week, or about $58,552 a year. The report states the average employee has gained 30.9 percent more purchasing power since 2005, and the average Austin household has 25.2 percent of their income leftover after their necessities.
Austin's "True Rate of Unemployment Out of the Population" is 42.8 percent, according to the analysis.
Austin split up two major California regions in the top three: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (No. 1) and San Fransisco-Oakland-Hayward (No. 3). The California metros' high cost of living was heavily offset by high income, which made the Bay Area the "best performing region for middle- and working-class households" in the U.S., a press release said.
The objective behind LISEP's report is to help policymakers assess their local economies' dynamics and to assess how much low-income and working-class families are affected, according to LISEP Chairman Gene Ludwig in the release
"Across the nation we are seeing both ends of the spectrum — communities where middle- and working-class families are faring well and others where financial survival remains a struggle," Ludwig said. "Our challenge here is in identifying what's working well and replicating it; what's not, and scrapping it. This is where real-world data can be invaluable to policymakers."
Austin-Round Rock wasn't the only Texas metro area to earn a spot in the analysis. San Antonio-New Braunfels ranked just outside the top 10 in No. 13, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 26, and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land earned No. 30.
The top 10 highest-performing economies in the U.S. are:
- No. 1 – San Jose-Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, California
- No. 2 – Austin-Round Rock, Texas
- No. 3 – San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
- No. 4 – Baltimroe-Columbia-Towson, Maryland
- No. 5 – Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia-Virginia-Maryland
- No. 6 – Minneapolis-St. Paul-Blookington, Minnesota-Wisconsin
- No. 7 – Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington
- No. 8 – Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin
- No. 9 – Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado
- No. 10 – Salt Lake City, Utah