New study finds soaring per-capita income in Midland could help overcome inflation


From 2010 to 2020, Midland residents saw their per capita income jump 37.5 percent or $32,690, according to a study from

That put per capita income at $119,888 in 2020, up from $87,198 in 2020. It also compares to the national average increase in per capita income of 25.9 percent or $12,244 over that same 10-year period.

Authors of the report say the study of 350 metropolitan areas yielded mixed results, with some resident’s incomes outpacing inflation but other residents seeing their incomes struggling to keep pace with inflation.

Midland’s inflation-adjusted income growth has been above average, the study’s authors told the Reporter-Telegram by email. “All else being equal, this better positions its residents to deal with the current high levels of inflation.”

However, they continued, “it’s still very unclear how the situation will develop in the coming months and years, especially in commodity-driven economies like Midland, which inherently have more volatility.”

Midland has the highest per capita income among all cities, noted Midlander Mickey Cargile of Cargile Investment Management. Among small metros, he said Midland’s per capita income is $30,723 higher than the second-place city. Its growth rate of 37.5 percent over the last decade places Midland 18th among all metropolitan areas and 11th among small metros, Cargile said.

“Our area’s high per capita income is due to the good, high paying jobs in the energy industry,” he told the Reporter-Telegram by email. “The cost of living is always higher in Midland, and inflation runs hotter here during the boom cycles. The higher costs are directly related to the higher incomes available in the community.”

Recent high inflation and supply chain shortages affect all communities and disproportionally affect those not directly benefiting from the energy boom, Cargile continued. He said the high per capita income in Midland not only makes it the best area to withstand inflation, but it also creates more tax revenues to support infrastructure and support of local charitable missions.

However, Cargile cautioned, “It is difficult for those not directly benefitting from the energy boom to stay in the area due of the high cost of living.”’s study found that the US economy is now a full year into a historic run of inflation with year-over-year price increases in the Consumer Price Index peaking at 8.5 percent in March. Despite widespread concerns about inflation, the study said not every household experiences rising prices in the same way. For example, homeowners who bought before the pandemic have been spared from spiking prices for housing costs, while remote workers have been less susceptible to rising costs for vehicles and gasoline. And amid a tight labor market and the Great Resignation, many workers have seen their wage gains outpace the rate of inflation—but for those who haven’t, rising prices have effectively given them a pay cut.

Changes in cost of living have also affected workers differently according to geography, the study found. More than two-thirds of states saw cost of living decrease relative to the national average in the decade before the pandemic. In contrast, coastal states like Washington, Oregon, and Massachusetts led the nation in cost of living increases over the same span.

According to the study, the state whose workers might be best off in recent years is Utah, which saw the nation’s fastest growth in real per capita income from 2010 to 2020 at 43.1% and had the seventh-lowest change in cost of living over that span. At both the state and metro level, other locations have struggled with the opposite problem: slower increases in income alongside faster increases in cost of living. States where incomes have increased most slowly over the last decade include Alaska, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

Per capita income changes in Midland

Percentage change in per capita income (2010–2020): +37.5%

Total change in per capita income (2010–2020): +$32,690

2020 per capita income: $119,888

2010 per capita income: $87,198


Per capita income changes in the United States:

Percentage change in per capita income (2010–2020): +25.9%

Total change in per capita income (2010–2020): +$12,244

2020 per capita income: $59,515

2010 per capita income: $47,271




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