How Houston stacks up on income and cost of living
I recently came across this document
from Atlanta with a lot of interesting data comparing 17 large and/or fast-growing American metros, including Houston (hat tip to 'Rail Claimore'
). Some observations:
- We're one of only three cities that are both very large and the fastest growing since 2000, along with Atlanta and DFW. I don't think it's a coincidence that all three of the large, fast-growing metros are below the national cost-of-living average, and all of the large, slow-growing metros are well above it.
- At 89.4 (vs. 100 for the national average), we have the lowest cost-of-living index of any of the metros, particularly dominating the grocery, housing, and misc goods and services categories (all three of which I think are directly related to our no-zoning, low regulation, hyper-competitive development environment). We're near the best in transportation and health care. Our biggest weakness is utilities, which is not surprising given our climate.
- Speaking of utilities, wouldn't the smart growth argument say that density reduces those costs? Yet NYC has the highest utilities index of all of the metros at 145.
- Our per capita income rose a respectable 15.2% from 2000 to 2005 to $39,199, above CPI inflation at 13.4%. Oddly, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, and especially Atlanta lagged far behind. I think that may partially reflect the dot-com crash.
- Austin, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, and Philly lost boatloads of higher-paying jobs. Again I suspect the dot-com crash. Houston held up because we had less exposure to the tech crash.
Overall, Houston ranks strongly, even with most of the data before the run-up in oil prices. But a lot
has happened since this 2005/2006 data. I imagine the housing crash combined with the recession would rearrange a lot of these rankings, although I still suspect Houston would hold up well (and Austin and Dallas would probably look better than they do here). If you come across similar documents with more recent data, please pass them along. Thanks.
Labels: affordability, economy, growth, home affordability, land-use regulation, rankings, smart growth