Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, IA
Waterloo-Cedar Falls leads state in per capita income growth, study shows
By DAN GEARINO, Couier Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES --- Per-capita income grew faster in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area
than in any other metropolitan area in Iowa from 2000 to 2005, according to
newly released federal estimates.
Waterloo-Cedar Falls’ per-capita income was $30,807 in 2005, up 24.3 percent
Only Ames and the Quad Cities grew more than 20 percent over the same
period, with 23.9 percent and 20.1 percent respectively.
State Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, said he’s not surprised by the income growth.
"We’ve become a more attractive community. I think the quality of life in the
Cedar Valley area is playing a major role in landing high-quality jobs," he said.
Despite the growth, Waterloo-Cedar Falls still lags behind the state average per-
capita income, which was $31,670 in 2005, up 19.3 percent from 2000.
The local-area income figures were released last week by the Iowa State Data
Center, compiled from a nationwide study released earlier by the U.S. Bureau of
The figures are not adjusted for inflation, so the percentage growth doesn’t
translate directly into the change in buying power. Inflation-adjusted growth was
about 10 percent in Waterloo-Cedar Falls and 5.6 percent for the state.
Iowa State University economist Dan Otto says per-capita income is one of
the best gauges of a region’s economic health.
"I think it’s a better indicator than just focusing on jobs. It’s a measure of the
quality of jobs and well-being of citizens in an area," he said.
Iowa has nine metropolitan areas, which are regions with at least 50,000
residents in the core urban area. The state also has 15 so-called micropolitan
areas, which are regions with a core of more than 10,000, but less than 50,000.
In 1995, Waterloo was dead last in per-capita income by metropolitan area. The
high growth rate is partly because the region’s numbers used to be so low.
"It’s easier to grow fast when you’re coming from dead bottom," Dotzler said.
Waterloo has now passed Sioux City and Dubuque and is just behind the Quad
Contact Dan Gearino at (515) 243-0138 or firstname.lastname@example.org.