Personal income in Lawrence grew slightly last year, but not enough to keep the city from dropping further in the per capita rankings of the nation's metropolitan areas.
Lawrence's per capita income in 2007 was $30,594, which led to a ranking of 258th among the top 363 metropolitan areas in the United States. That's according to an annual study released on Thursday. The study was conducted by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
It all stems from the local job market, said Mike Amyx, Lawrence business owner and city commissioner.
"I think we need to work really hard to attract the kind of jobs and pay the wages necessary for people to be able to buy homes, cars and be able to raise a family," Amyx said.
Lawrence's ranking dropped each of the last three years. It ranked 192nd in 2005 and 224th in 2006, records show.
"Rankings jump up and down all the time, but any time you see a trend that runs two or three years in a row, that throws up a red flag, one that we need to recognize," Amyx said.
There is a positive, however, Amyx said. Per capita income increased by about $3,000 over the last three years, according to the federal analysis. That is encouraging, he said.
"At the same time that I may have questions about our rankings dropping, I've seen growth in the per capita income," Amyx said. "We are fortunate here to have some very strong businesses that not only pay their employees well, but at the same time they are helping out with a lot of needs we have in the community."
Lawrence also ranks behind the metropolitan areas of Topeka (173rd) and Wichita (67th). Those cities are larger than Lawrence, but the three cities also compete for the same type of businesses, Amyx said.
The Kansas City area, which includes both sides of the state line, ranks 63.
The study showed that personal income growth slowed in 2007 in most of the metropolitan areas nationwide. On average, income grew 6.2 percent, down from 6.8 percent in 2006.
Personal income grew the fastest in Gulfport, Miss., New Orleans and Pascagoula, Miss., the study concluded. That growth was boosted by federal payments to rebuild residences destroyed or damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.
Fast growth was also found in parts of Texas, Colorado and Wyoming because of growth in the oil and gas extraction industry, the study showed. The slowest-growing areas were in the Great Lakes region because of declines in manufacturing.