If you've chosen to live in a small, Midwestern town or rural area, you probably already know the benefits of endless sky and fresh air. But did you know you could be gaining wealth faster than the 261 million residents of cities and suburbs?
An analysis by USA Today shows that people living in cities and suburbs haven't recovered earning power lost in the recession and economic slump. It cites a Bureau of Economic Analysis report that states average income per person in these areas fell 3.5% between 2007 and 2011, after adjusting for inflation.
But residents of 51 small towns and rural areas saw an inflation-adjusted increase of 3.8% per person since 2007. The study attributes the increase to the nation's oil and gas boom and strong farm prices. In oil-rich Sutton County, Texas, for instance, wages and benefits doubled, to $115,775 per job, from 2007 to 2011.
New York City suburbs are still the richest overall, with the Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn., metro area coming in first with an average income of $78,504 per person in 2011. It's been the most affluent place in the country for a decade. But next on the list is another oil-rich county, Midland, Texas, which beat out technology-rich San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.