is the living easy?
A new economic analysis by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP) has revealed that Houston-The-Woodlands-Sugar Land has the 30th 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 Houston's data, the region's population has skyrocketed 18.7 percent within the last decade, now reaching over 7.34 million people. The median age of an Houston-area resident is 35.1-years-old.
The three main criteria that determined Houston'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 a little more than half of all Houston-area households are earning enough income to afford their basic needs. The remaining 46.4 percent are struggling due to a high cost of living, the report said.
"The total costs of necessities for a 4-person family [in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land] increased 58.2 percent since 2005 from $54,052 to $85,492," the report said.
Furthermore, Houstonians are bringing home higher weekly earnings than they were in 2020. Houston workers are earning a median $894.89 per week, or about $47,429.17 a year. The report states the average employee has gained 8.2 percent more purchasing power since 2005, and the average Houston household has 8.1 percent of their income leftover after their necessities.
Houston's "True Rate of Unemployment Out of the Population" is 63 percent, according to the analysis.
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."
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land wasn't the only Texas metro area to earn a spot in the analysis. Austin-Round Rock worked its way up into No. 2 nationally, while San Antonio-New Braunfels ranked just outside the top 10 at No. 13. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked four spots higher than Houston at No. 26.
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
This article originally ran on CultureMap.