Texas’ richest city may come as a surprise

A Texas city can brag about being better than San Francisco, New York City and Boston in at least one area – personal income.

But it isn’t Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or Austin that’s near the top of the list from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

It’s Midland.

The dusty West Texas town ranks as the second richest metropolitan area in the United States based on per capita personal income, according to a report by the BEA.

Midland residents’ personal income per capita was $65,173 in 2011, or roughly $20,000 more than the $41,560 average for U.S. metropolitan areas, according to the study.

Bridgeport, Conn., which includes the wealthy Greenwich area, ranked as the richest metro area in the country. Residents’ personal income per capita was $78,504 in 2011, the study found.

San Francisco, San Jose and Washington, D.C., rounded out the top five. Houston was ranked 27th with an average of $47,612, according to the study.

Dallas residents averaged $43,708 in 2011, ranking 52nd in the study. San Antonio was below the metro average with a personal income of $36,781, putting them 181st on the list.

Midland’s appearance at the top of the list caused a bit of a stir with The Atlantic.

The magazine wrote Midland’s second-place finish “is a geological one: The small city and its big wages are at the mercy of their natural resources and the globally-determined price of energy.”

It added that New York, San Francisco, San Jose and Boston have high wages because “productive, innovative and well-educated people work and live there without the benefit of natural resources.”

Midland has had plenty of booms and busts in its history.

But the city is enjoying an upswing due to new technologies that are unlocking new pockets of oil and natural gas.

Those technologies have dropped Midland’s unemployment rate to under 4 percent, making it the lowest in the state.

BMW sales in the Midland area have increased 50 percent more than two years ago, according to State Impact Texas.

So it might not be a surprise to Texans that Midland is among the wealthiest cities, but, Houston and Dallas residents might be a bit disappointed that they aren’t higher on the list.