The Austin area gets richer

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

The Austin area gets richer
Marfa, Tex. on Sunday night. I spent the weekend there with a couple of friends.

Each year the Department of Housing & Urban Affairs updates income data for metro areas across the country. The 2024 figures are now out, and they put the median income for a family of four in the Austin-Round Rock MSA at $126,000, up from 122,300 a year ago.

That's only a 3% increase –– slightly below the current rate of inflation. Similarly, the median income for a household at 140% of the area median income only rose 3% to $176,400.

The increases were more dramatic in lower income brackets. A family of four at 60% of the area median now has an income of $75,600, an increase of 7.9% over last year's $70,080. The same percentage increase occurred at 50% AMI, which now stands at $63,000 for a four-person household, and 30% AMI, which is now $37,800.

The optimistic interpretation of this data is that the lower-wage workers got bigger raises last year –– ones that actually outpaced inflation.

But as anyone familiar with this subject in Austin knows, rising incomes in this city don't always reflect reduced hardship among the poor and middle class.