Recently the U.S. Commerce Department released numbers for income growth between 2007 and 2009 in metropolitan areas. Some of the results were surprising, says N.C. State University economist Mike Walden.
“This was a study that compared 400 — 400 — metropolitan areas across the country. And the interesting finding is that there were two metropolitan areas in North Carolina that really led all other metropolitan areas — these other 400 — in terms of per capita income growth during over this time period, 2007 to 2009. They may not be the metro areas that most people would think of. When they think of North Carolina they think of our sort of our leading metro areas; I think most people would think of the Triangle and Charlotte.
“Actually, in this study the two metropolitan areas in North Carolina that led all others in terms of income growth were Fayetteville and Jacksonville. Jacksonville had metropolitan income growth of 18 percent over that two year period; Fayetteville, over 10 percent. Goldsboro was actually in the top 10 also.
“And I think what ties those three areas together, of course, (if people understand North Carolina) is the military. The military has really been recession-proof over the last couple of years. So communities like Fayetteville and Jacksonville and Goldsboro, which all have significant military presences, have actually been able to benefit from that in terms of their economy. They have not suffered nearly as much as others during this recession.”