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Northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota counties achieve high income growth

REGIONAL — Area counties have shown strong income growth in 2018, outpacing metro areas in Minnesota and Iowa, according to a recent report from financial firm SmartAsset.

In southwest Minnesota, Rock, Nobles, Pipestone and Jackson counties all finished in the top 13 in statewide income growth. Rock County was the best, finishing fifth in the state with 3.5 percent income growth — up significantly from just 1.1 percent income growth in the 2017 study.

Nobles County had 3.2 percent income growth, good for ninth in the state.

In northwest Iowa, Lyon County showed 3.7 percent income growth, the second-best mark in the state behind only Delaware County (3.8 percent).

The top-performing counties each have an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent or less, meaning not only that jobs are available, but that workers are in high demand among employers — driving up wages.

Counties in established cities, where workers are more readily available and wages are already much higher, didn’t do as well. In the Twin Cities metro area, Hennepin and Ramsey County saw 1.2 percent income growth.

Among other southwest Minnesota counties, Murray and Cottonwood counties fared near average, with 1.6 and 1.9 percent income growth, respectively.

In Iowa, Osceola County had only 1.2 percent income growth, good for 68th statewide. Dickinson County was slightly better at 1.9 percent.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2016 five-year American Community Survey, MIT Living Wage Study and Bureau of Labor Statistics, SmartAsset calculated the annual growth in median income over five years for each county and indexed the results.

The studies for Iowa and Minnesota can be found on the SmartAsset website.