America's Second Richest City Is ... Midland?

Writing in the Atlantic today, Derek Thompson reports from recently released data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that Midland -- not Washington, D.C. or San Francisco, but a 110,000-person speck of dust out in West Texas -- is the country's second richest city, per capita. It might well be first if Bridgeport, Connecticut, didn't have quite so many New York hedge fund billionaires. Dallas didn't even make the top 20.

It doesn't take much to figure out why Midland's rich: It's practically swimming in petroleum and gas. Always has been. But it hasn't always been so flush. Look no further than the 1980s, when Midland and the rest of West Texas were reeling from a humongous oil bust.

What's revived the town and propelled it to the top of the per capita income list, is, in a word, fracking. Midland has been riding the crest of the natural gas drilling boom, enjoying an unemployment rate of 3 percent and the enviable problem, of having too few homes to house workers. StateImpact Texas reports that sales at the local BMW dealership are up 50 percent.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson