MONEY Investing

Are You On Your Way to $1 Million? Tell Us Your Story.

There are many ways to build lasting wealth. MONEY wants to hear how you're doing it.

The number of millionaires in America hit 9.6 million this year, a record high and yet another sign that the wealthy are recovering from the Great Recession, thanks in large part to stock market and real estate gains.

Are you on target to join their ranks? Are you taking steps—through your savings, your career decisions, your investments, or your rental properties—to make sure that by the time you retire your net worth will be in the seven figures? MONEY wants to hear your story.

Related: Where Are You On the Road to Wealth?

There are many paths to that kind of wealth, and they don’t necessarily involve a sudden windfall, a big head start, or a six-figure salary. You can build up a million or more in assets through steady saving, a sensible approach to investing, modest real estate holdings, or a winning small business idea. Are you finding ways to boost your savings at certain point of your life, like when the kids are out of school or the mortgage is paid up? Are you planning to take more or fewer risks with your investments as you near retirement? And if you invest in real estate, do you find that owning even one or two rental properties is enough to achieve prosperity?

Got a story like this to share? Use the confidential form below to tell us a bit about what you’re doing right, plus let us know where you’re from, what you do for a living, and how old you are. We won’t use your story unless we speak with you first.

MONEY The Economy

Wealth Inequality Doubled Over Last 10 Years, Study Finds

An analysis by researchers at the University of Michigan shows a drastic increase in wealth inequality since 2003.

A new study finds wealth inequality among U.S. households has nearly doubled over the past decade.

The analysis, performed by researchers at the University of Michigan, shows households in the 95th percentile of net worth had 13 times the wealth of the median household in 2003. By 2013, this disparity had increased almost twofold, with the wealthiest 5% of Americans holding 24 times that of the median.

In dollars terms, the median wealth of a US household was $87,992 in 2003, and by 2013 had decreased 36% to $56,335. In contrast, the richest 10% actually saw their net worth increase from 2003 to 2013, with the highest gains going to the top 5%. The median wealth of the households in the top five percent grew over 12% during the same time period, from $1,192,639 to $1,364,834.

The study also shows similar wealth inequality growth between median and poor households. In 2013, the 50th percentile held 17.6 times the wealth of the least wealthy 25%—over twice the disparity found in 2003.

A principal reason for the rapid increase in wealth disparity over the last 10 years is the different ways various economic groups invest their money. According to the study’s lead author, Fabian T. Pfeffer, more than half of the median household’s wealth in 2007 was in home equity. By comparison, the median household in the richest 5th percentile held only 16% of their wealth in home equity, with the lion’s share being kept in real assets, including business assets (49%) and financial instruments like stocks and bonds (25%).

Pfeffer explains that because stocks have recovered more quickly than the real estate market—the S&P reached its pre-recession high in March of 2013, while home prices are still far from their 2006 peak—average households were hurt far more than richer Americans when the housing bubble popped. When home equity is excluded from household wealth, the impact of the housing crash on average Americans is especially clear. A median household’s total net worth declined by $42,000 between 2007 and 2013, but their wealth held in non-real estate assets declined by only $6,900. The Great Recession’s disproportionate impact on real estate allowed the richest households, who could afford to diversify their investments, to grow wealth even during a deflating housing market.

Source: YCharts

Another concern for middle class households is that many sold off investments during the recession in order meet expenses, and are now less able to enjoy the benefits of a recovering economy. “Part of the lack of recovery is that they [median American households] had to divest,” says Pfeffer. “The troubles will stay with them for the next couple of decades as they try to reclaim these assets.”

Will wealth inequality continue to increase at its current pace? Pfeffer believes it would take another deep recession for inequality to double again in the next 10 years, but says his research confirms what economists like best-selling author Thomas Piketty have been saying for years: that returns to capital have been increasing at a rapid pace over the last century, creating a persistently swelling gap between the wealth of the haves and the have-nots. “I don’t see many hopefully signs that we’re going to get back to where we were 10 years ago,” Pfeffer says.

Some have claimed inequality is less important as long as all Americans see wealth gains over time. The rich may get richer faster, but that might not matter if the poor and middle class are also seeing their wealth increase. Pfeffer disagrees. A rising tide may lift all boats, but the Michigan professor points out that wealth not only tends to determine political influence, but also that wealth inequality greatly affects the opportunities available to the children of the middle class, especially in terms of education. “The further families pull apart [in net worth], the more disparate the opportunities become for their offspring,” he says.

TIME 2016 Election

Bill Clinton: Hillary Is ‘Not Out of Touch’

Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton listens during a session of the annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative America in Denver on June 24, 2014 Brennan Linsley—AP

The former President said his wife is "not out of touch," after she came under fire for minimizing their wealth in recent interviews

Former President Bill Clinton defended his wife’s recent comments about their family’s wealth Tuesday in an interview at the Clinton Global Initiative America conference.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come under fire from Republicans and some Democrats for minimizing their wealth in recent interviews in promotion of her new book. Hillary Clinton said earlier this month she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001, and in an interview with the Guardian newspaper published last weekend, Clinton implied she was not among the “truly well-off,” despite more than $100 million that the former President has collected from speaking engagements alone.

The criticisms are undercutting Hillary Clinton’s efforts to highlight populist economic issues in preparation for a possible presidential campaign and lending to an image that she can’t relate to average Americans.

The former President told NBC News’ David Gregory he was not surprised the subject of their wealth came up, suggesting it was an effort by Republicans to “change the subject.”

“It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt,” Bill Clinton said in an interview airing this week on Meet the Press, in reference to the millions in legal fees they racked up in the White House. “Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic; I’m shocked that it’s happened. I’m shocked that people still want me to come give talks.”

With his wife and daughter looking on, Bill Clinton asserted that they do normal things in the tiny New York suburb of Chappaqua, the location of one of their two homes.

“The idea that now, after — I think I had the lowest net worth of any American President in the 20th century when I took office, but I still could have been tone-deaf,” said Clinton. “And, you know, now I don’t, and we’ve got a good life, and I’m grateful for it. But we go to our local grocery store on the weekend. We talk to people in our town. We know what’s going on. The real issue is if you’ve been fortunate enough to be successful, are you now out of touch and insensitive to the agonizing struggles other people are facing? That’s the real issue.”

Asked whether he could see why the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate’s comments were drawing accusations that she was out of touch, Bill Clinton said he could, adding “but she’s not out of touch.”

“She advocated and worked as a Senator for things that were good for ordinary people,” he continued. “And before that, all her life. And the people asking her questions should put this into some sort of context.”

Hillary Clinton’s remarks on wealth have evoked comparisons to former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. On Monday, potential 2016 rival Vice President Joe Biden highlighted his relatively meager finances at an event on working families, but called himself fortunate regardless.

Watch the video of the exchange below:

TIME 10 Questions

Ice Cube Explains How to Rap About Being Poor When You’re Rich as Heck

Also discusses how to get kids to clean up their language.

+ READ ARTICLE

Rapper-actor-producer Ice Cube, one of the stars of this weekend’s 22 Jump Street, has a new album in the works, Everthang’s Corrupt. When Cube visited Time for our 10 Questions page, we asked how the N.W.A. alum managed to rap about what it’s like to be poor when clearly he’s so successful.

While Cube, as he likes to be called, doesn’t give much money to political campaigns — “politicians not going to do more with my money than I can to help whatever cause or whatever situation I want to help”—he uses his music to do his own form of campaigning. He’s an Obama voter, too, and is happy with the President, despite the fact that Obama “reminds me of the black kid at a white school that don’t nobody want to play with. That’s fine—he goes in there and does his thing, does what he can.”

A longer version of the interview, in which Cube discusses some geometry and gives parenting tips, is below.

 

 

 

MONEY Health Care

The Poor are More Likely to Die of Cancer

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People from wealthy areas are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than people from less wealthy areas. Mark Kostich—Getty Images/Vetta

Your financial status affects your risk of the disease more than you might think.

A new study from Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, finds that cancer afflicts wealthy and poor areas at about the same rate. But the study also found that they suffer from different kinds of cancer—and the cancers that strike the poor are more often deadly.

The study looked at the incidence rates of 39 kinds of cancer in different census tracts. Researchers found that poorer areas have higher rates of lung, colorectal, cervical, oral and liver cancer, while wealthier areas have higher rates of breast, prostate, thyroid and skin cancer. The 14 cancers associated with poverty have a mortality rate of 107.7 per 100,000, while the 18 cancers associated with wealth have a mortality rate of 68.9.

“The cancers more associated with poverty have lower incidence and higher mortality, and those associated with wealth have higher incidence and lower mortality,” researcher Francis Boscoe said in a statement. “When it comes to cancer, the poor are more likely to die of the disease while the affluent are more likely to die with the disease.”

Why the difference? The researchers aren’t sure, but they did find that the kinds of cancers that are more prevalent in poorer communities are associated with “behavioral risk factors,” like smoking, drinking, drug use and poor diet. Furthermore, wealthier areas report higher rates of cancers with few symptoms, like skin, thyroid and prostate cancer. These cancers often require advanced medical technology to detect. Since wealthier areas offer better access to healthcare, the scientists suspect that those people are more likely to be diagnosed with earlier stage cancers, but they plan to do more research.

TIME movies

Why Are the World’s Richest Actors All Men?

"Beautiful - The Carole King Musical" Broadway Opening Night - Arrivals And Curtain Call
Walter McBride—WireImage/Getty Images

A new list shows the net worth of the world's richest actors — with nary a female performer in sight

It helps to be funny, or a dreamboat in your fifties, or really old. You can be an African American or a Bollywood star in India. The one disqualifying factor: being a woman.

Those are the lessons from a list of the 10 Richest Actors list, as calculated by the Singapore-based Wealth-X, which describes itself as “the world’s leading ultra high net worth (UHNW) intelligence and prospecting firm.” TV star-entrepreneurs abound from Jerry Seinfeld to Tyler Perry and Bill Cosby. In this exclusive club, Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson, stars since the ’60s, rub shoulders with ’80s icons Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp. Adam Sandler is the newest traditional movie star, beginning his career in the ’90s; and Tyler Perry is the most impressive, having amassed his billions in the past decade, mostly by wearing a dress and playing the sassy matriarch Mabel “Madea” Simmons.

The lone non-American is Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan, a 20-year star of such blockbusters as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kabhi Kuchi Kabhi Gham and Devdas. Known as SRK, or “King Khan,” he is also a TV host and owner of the cricket club the Kolkata Knight Riders.

(READ: Corliss on Shah Rukh Khan and Bollywood films)

The top 10, with each man’s age and loot:

1. Jerry Seinfeld, 60, $820 million
2. Shah Rukh Khan, 48, $600 million
3. Tom Cruise, 51, $480 million
4. Johnny Depp, 50, $450 million
4. Tyler Perry, 44, $450 million
6. Jack Nicholson, 77, $400 million
7. Tom Hanks, 57, $390 million
8. Bill Cosby, 76, $380 million
9. Clint Eastwood, 83, $370 million
10. Adam Sandler, 47, $340 million

You see no Julia Roberts, no Meryl Streep. Though they have appeared in many popular films over the past decades, they don’t command the salaries and royalties of a Cruise or a Depp, in part because they are not worldwide marquee magnets in zillion-dollar action franchises. The lot of actress has diminished since Mary Pickford was the richest star in silent pictures, a century ago, and Barbara Stanwyck the highest-paid performer in ’40s movies. For a redress of the imbalance, we may have to hope that Jennifer Lawrence can parlay her Hunger Games appeal into a career that allows a woman to make the really big dough. At just 23, Lawrence has the best shot at money equality.

(READ: Jennifer Lawrence’s Silver Linings Yearbook)

Another list of wealthy performers, compiled by the Celebrity Worth website, does a gender switch: women hold the top four spots. But each actress requires an asterisk. No. 1 is Dina Merrill, the Grace Kelly lookalike who played supporting roles in movies of the late ’50s (Desk Set, Operation Petticoat, The Sundowners) and enjoyed a long career in TV dramas. But her residuals didn’t create Merrill’s $5-billion net worth. That came from her father, investment banker E.F. Hutton, and quite a bit more from her mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune. When you serve your kids Cocoa Pebbles — not the soundest nutritional idea — you’re contributing to Merrill’s swag.

Second on the Celebrity Worth site is Oprah Winfrey, who in her 28-year talk-show-host career has acted in exactly four films. Third is Jamie Gertz, who’s been in movies (Sixteen Candles, Twister) and a quarter-century of TV shows from Square Pegs to The Neighbors; her wealth comes from her husband Antony Ressler, cofounder of the Apollo and Ares global management firms. Fourth is Jacqueline Gold, the British businesswoman who succeeded her father as head of the lingerie and sex-toy company Ann Summers; Gold has appeared as herself in reality shows (Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway) and game shows (The Verdict). To rise to the top of this list, a woman needed to be born to wealth, marry into it or be Oprah.

The highest-ranking male on Celebrity Worth: Shah Rukh Khan, at No. 5. On either list, it pays to be “the Badshah of Bollywood.”

TIME

Here Are the 10 Richest Towns in America

More than a few surprises on the list

See correction below.

Where do the richest Americans live? Short answer: the Northeast. Six out of 10 of the nation’s wealthiest zip codes come from Connecticut, Maryland, New York and New Jersey, while three more lie just to the south, in Virginia. Only one zip code west of the Mississippi—76092 in Southlake, Texas—cracks the top 10.

Using 5 year averages from the US Census Bureau, the data was compiled and visualized by FindTheBest, a research engine. (Note that this study was limited to zip codes with at least 10,000 residents.)

Here’s a heat map showing the nation’s richest zip codes, where darker is wealthier.

Wealth

A few characteristics common to the top 10 (and most of the top 50):

Well-educated: about 80% of residents in the 10 wealthiest zip codes have at least a Bachelor’s degree, compared to only about 30% in the average American zip code.
Costly: at least 87% of residents in the 10 wealthiest zip codes pay more than $2,000 per month on their mortgage.
Married: approximately 70% of residents in each of the wealthiest zip codes are married, compared to only about 50% nationally.
Caucasian: the wealthiest zip codes in the nation are overwhelmingly white, with one exception (see below).
Employed: none of the top 10 wealthiest zip codes have unemployment rates above 6.5%, and most are well under 5%.

#10: 22101
McLean, Virginia
57.8% of households make more than $150k

Human Trafficking Probe
This house owned by the government of Saudi Arabia, was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) officials on a report of human trafficking in McLean, Va., Thursday, May 2, 2013, Alex Brandon—AP

McLean is the most expensive suburb in the Washington metro area, home to many government officials and wealthy politicians.

McLean’s 22101 zip code isn’t just wealthy: it’s smart. Students in 22101 boast the best overall performance on the SAT, ACT, and AP exam compared to every other zip code on this list.

#9: 76092
Southlake, Texas
58.7% of households make more than $150k

Paul Moseley
Kelly McGuire Lynch poses at her soon-to-be ex-home in Southlake, Texas, with her son Patrick, June 24, 2009. MCT—Getty Images

Southlake is a wealthy suburb near Dallas-Fort Worth, home to Sabre Holdings, an S&P 500 company that owns Travelocity.

Southlake’s 76092 zip code is distinctive for several reasons. Besides being the only top finisher out West, the zip code is tied for the most modern of the 10, with a median home construction year of 1995 (compare that to the national median, 1974). It’s also the least educated of the top 10, with just 23.8% of residents holding advanced degrees (though that’s still over twice the national percentage of 10.6%).

#8: 06820
Darien, Connecticut
59.7% of households make more than $150k

The home of Morgan Stanley investment banker, William Bryan Jennings, is seen at 39 Knollwood Lane in Darien
The home of Morgan Stanley investment banker, William Bryan Jennings, is seen in Darien, Connecticut on March 6, 2012. Adam Hunger—Reuters

Darien is a quiet town in southwest Connecticut made up of wealthy professionals, most of whom commute to Manhattan or other nearby cities.

Darien’s 06820 zip code is both very wealthy and very white. With 95% of residents identifying as caucasian, it’s the least diverse of the top 10.

#7: 21029
Clarksville, Maryland
62.2% of households make more than $150k

hx-house3 07-28-2006 #182535 Mark Gail_TWP House at 5918 Clifton Oaks in Clarksville.  (Photo by Mar
Mark Gail’s TWP House at in Clarksville, MD on July 28, 2006. The Washington Post/Getty Images

Clarksville is a wealthy community between Baltimore and Washington DC, home to some of the most expensive properties in the nation.

Clarksville’s 21029 zip code is the most diverse of the top 10, with a population 61% caucasian, 28% Asian and 7% African American. (The next most diverse—20854—is 74% caucasian, essentially the same as the nation as a whole.)

#6: 20854
Potomac, Maryland
62.4% of households make more than $150k

Magazine  Cover Story on Linda and Jim Hobbins for Fall Home and Design Issue (September 30th, 2012)
Linda Hobbins waters the mums on the front steps of her 18th century farmhouse in Potomac, Maryland on August 29, 2012. The Washington Post/Getty Images

Sitting on the east bank of the Potomac River, Potomac is home to wealthy DC professionals and several nationally-ranked schools.

With 17.3% residents over 65, the 20854 zip code has more retirees than any other top 10 finisher. It’s also the largest (nearly 50,000 residents) and the most female (51.7%).

#5: 10514
Chappaqua, New York
63.7% of households make more than $150k

The new home of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillar
The home of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on Old House Lane in Chappaqua, N.Y on Sept. 3, 1999. NY Daily News/Getty Images

Once a modest farming town, Chappaqua is now a wealthy hamlet north of New York City containing wealthy professionals and Ivy League-bound students.

Chappaqua’s 10514 zip code, like much of New York, is less car-dependant than the rest of America. More than one in three 10514 residents take public transportation to work, the highest proportion of the wealthiest 10 zip codes.

#4: 22066
Great Falls, Virginia
67% of households make more than $150k

The Baker's home in Great Falls VA,
Front exterior of the Baker’s home in Great Falls VA on October 2, 2013. The Washington Post/Getty Images

While many Great Falls residents spend their days working in DC, their homes sit along the pricey desirable west bank of the Potomac River.

Among the top 10 wealthiest zip codes, Great Falls’ 22066 has the second highest percentage of homeowners (94.3% of residents own a house), as well as the second highest average number of cars (nearly 60% own at least three cars). Compare those figures to the national averages, where just 66% of Americans own a home and just 35% own three or more cars.

#3: 06883
Weston, Connecticut
67.3% of households make more than $150k

OfficeMaxÕs "A Day Made Better" Presentation In Connecticut
Students in a pre-kindergartner class enjoy reading a book by children’s author Alan Katz during OfficeMax’s “A Day Made Better” presentation at Hurlbutt Elementary School in Weston, Connecticut on April 26, 2010. Wendy Carlson—Getty Images

Weston is one of several wealthy towns in southwestern Connecticut, each known for affluence, low crime, great schools, big properties, and lots of open space.

The smallest of the 10 wealthiest zip codes, 06883 is home to 10,203 residents, just large enough to earn a spot in this study.

- rent over $1,500

#2: 22039
Fairfax Station, Virginia
67.8% of households make more than $150k

SLUG: FX_COVER21 DATE: May 18, 2009 PLACE: Fairfax, VA. PHOT
Metro trains move to and from the Vienna Metro Station alongside I-66 traffic in Fairfax, VA. on May 18, 2009. Washington Post/Getty Images

Fairfax Station lies just to the southwest of Washington DC, and like several of the other zip codes on this list, is home to many DC professionals.

22039 is rich, old, and traffic-clogged. The zip code houses more middle-aged and elderly combined than the other nine cities on this list, while its average commute time—38.9 minutes—is the worst of the group. Car ownership may have something to do with this: over 10% of 22039 residents have 5 or more cars, the highest percentage of the bunch.

#1: 07078
Short Hills, New Jersey
69.4% of households make more than $150k

A view of the home of former JP Morgan chief investment officer Ina Drew in Short Hills, New Jersey
A view of the home of former JP Morgan chief investment officer Ina Drew in Short Hills, New Jersey, on May 14, 2012. Eduardo Munoz—Reuters

West of New York City, Short Hills is a quiet, affluent town, popular among wealthy NYC commuters.

A closer view of East Coast zip codes by household income:

wealth

 

Correction: The original version of this article contained inaccurate information about standardized test performance in the the 07078 zip code. Student test scores in and around the Shorts Hills area are in fact among the best in the nation, not below the national average. Upon further review, the low Public Schools Rating was a result of missing data from NJ’s Department of Education, not poor test performance. This portion of the article has been removed.

TIME Business

Here’s A Ranking Of The Richest Superheroes

Because who cares about all the times you saved Gotham from villainous underlords?

There are many ways to measure a superhero’s worth. Numbers of babies saved is a pretty solid one. And then there’s the literal way of measuring a superhero’s net worth.

Buddy Loans created a chart that itemizes the wealthiest superheroes and villains. Because who cares about stopping that comet hurdling towards earth if your stock portfolio isn’t impressive?

worlds richest superheroes

courtesy of BuddyLoans.com

MORE: Understanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe

TIME Vatican

Pope Francis to World: Redistribute The Wealth

Pope meets Ban Ki-moon in Vatican
Pope Francis meets UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and members of UN System Chief Executives Board for the biannual meeting on strategic coordination in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on May 9, 2014. Osservatore Romano/EPA

Pope Francis reaffirmed his plea on Friday for world leaders to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor during an address before top U.N. officials and called for a global initiative to reduce the income gap

Pope Francis on Friday renewed his call on global leaders to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.

Francis made his plea during an address to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other U.N. leaders gathered in Rome for an audience with the pope, CBS News reports.

Railing against an “economy of exclusion,” Francis called for a state-led global initiative to close the widening gap between rich and poor through redistribution.

Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustices and resisting the economy of exclusion, the throwaway culture and the culture of death which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted,” Francis said.

The comments were in keeping with the Pope’s previous critiques of income inequality at the World Economic Forum in January and in a private March meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Pope and Ban skirted the issue of an ongoing U.N. investigation into the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse cases and briefly touched upon the Catholic church’s stances on birth control and abortion.

[CBS News]

TIME

9 Cities Where Americans Are Getting Rich Right Now

247-LogoVersions-114x57
This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247wallst.com.

The United States is still slowly recovering from the recession, and incomes across the nation have declined in recent years. Nationwide, median household income was $51,771 a year during the three-year period of 2010 to 2012, a decline of 5.8% compared with the previous three-year period of 2007 to 2009, when the U.S. median household income was $54,951 a year.

The economic recovery is not uniform across the country, as some cities have weathered the financial crisis better than others. Median incomes increased by more than 15% in nine U.S. cities between the three-year periods of 2007 to 2009 and 2010 to 2012, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. A typical New Bern, N.C., resident earned 25.3% more between 2010 and 2012 compared with the prior three-year period of between 2007 and 2009.

Click here to see the nine cities where wealth is soaring

Unsurprisingly, the poverty rates in many of these towns improved with rising median household incomes. The proportion of residents living in poverty declined by more than six percentage points in two of the cities on our list, West Lafayette, Ind., and Manhattan, Kan. The poverty rate in all but one city on our list declined, versus a nationwide increase of more than two percentage points.

One factor that may have helped median incomes in these cities grow is the fact that incomes were often low to begin with, Austin Nichols, Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute, told 24/7 Wall St. Because of the beginning low base income, “A $1,000 change in some places is going to be effectively 0% change and in some places it’s going to be a [much] higher percentage change,” Nichols said. With the exception of Bentonville, Ark., all the cities with the largest income gains were in the bottom quartile for income nationwide between 2007 and 2009.

Still, income changes in some of these places have actually been quite large, even when measured in dollar terms. All but one of the nine cities where wealth has soared had among the 15 largest dollar changes in median income. Just three of these nine cities were still in the bottom quartile for income between 2010 and 2012.

MORE: Ten Cities Where Young People Can’t Find Work

Education is among the industries less likely to suffer from a recession, Nichols told 24/7 Wall St. Large universities tend to offer more stable employment than many other sectors. According to Nichols, “Universities and usually governments are countercyclical,” which means institutions like “public administration and education are more protected from the recession.” Manhattan, Kan., Stillwater, Okla., Nacogdoches, Texas, and West Lafayette, Ind., are all homes to large public universities. The presence of colleges in many cities may also have contributed to lower median incomes, since few students hold full-time jobs while at school.

To identify the cities with the biggest increases in wealth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 2012 three-year estimates. Three years’ worth of data (2010 to 2012) allow for the review of smaller cities. Checking the Census Bureau’s comparison table for statistical significance, we compared this three-year period to the 2007 to 2009 period. The cities with populations of 25,000 or more with the largest percentage increase in household median income made our list. Worth noting, Urban Institute’s Nichols said that large changes may be statistically significant “even if they are primarily due to measurement error.” To be consistent, we used three-year averages for national figures as well. In addition to income figures, we collected home values, poverty and employment by industry, all using the ACS. We reviewed annual average unemployment rate figures over the past six full years from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These are the cities where wealth is soaring.

5. Del Rio, Texas
> Pct. increase in income: 19.9%
> Median household income: $40,307
> Poverty rate: 21.2%
> Population: 35,612

Del Rio benefits from the presence of Laughlin Air Force Base, which provides massive economic benefits to the local economy. Del Rio’s economy also benefits from its proximity to far-larger Ciudad Acuna, Mexico. Also, the city’s total labor force grew by more than 10% between the two three-year periods beginning in 2007 and in 2010. Unlike other parts of Texas, Del Rio’s economy has not traditionally been a stronghold for oil and gas. Agriculture and mining accounted for just 3.2% of total civilian employment between 2010 and 2012, although the sector grew by 146% between the three-year periods starting in 2007 and 2010. While some areas of the city’s economy are growing, others are in decline. Construction dropped to just 3.6% of employment during the period of 2010 to 2012, down from 7.3% during the period of 2007 to 2009. Additionally, the city’s unemployment rate was 7.4% in 2012, still above pre-recession rates.

MORE: America’s Most Miserable Cities

4. Bridgeton, N.J.
> Pct. increase in income: 21.6%
> Median household income: $39,890
> Poverty rate: 34.0%
> Population: 25,298

The agricultural industry has always been strong in Bridgeton, accounting for more than 5% of the region’s employment between 2007 and 2009, compared with less than 2% of employment nationwide. By the three-year period ending in 2012, the agricultural, forestry and mining sector’s share of employment in the city had more than doubled, making up 11.8% of the workforce. Despite the rise in agricultural employment and the increase in incomes, Bridgeton residents are still some of the poorest in the country. Unlike the other cities with rising incomes, poverty in Bridgeton worsened in the years under review. The poverty rate increased by 8.8 percentage points from the 2007 to 2009 period to the 2010 to 2012 period, among the worst nationwide.

3. West Lafayette, Ind.
> Pct. increase in income: 22.2%
> Median household income: $30,498
> Poverty rate: 36.4%
> Population: 30,238

Between 2007 and 2009, 10.4% of the population earned less than $10,000 a year, among the worst nationwide and roughly double the national rate of 5.7%. Extreme poverty had improved dramatically by the end of the three-year period ending in 2012, when just 0.2% of residents earned less than $10,000 a year. While the city’s median household income of slightly more than $30,000 was still considerably lower than the national median over that time, the city’s labor market was relatively healthy. In every year between 2007 and 2012, the unemployment rate remained far lower than the national rate. The sorts of jobs offered by Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, may account in part for the region’s stable labor force, since university jobs tend to be less volatile compared with those in other industries.

ALSO READ: America’s Most (and Least) Literate Cities

2. Nacogdoches, Texas
> Pct. increase in income: 23.7%
> Median household income: $30,059
> Poverty rate: 32.0%
> Population: 33,604

Between the two three-year periods starting in 2007 and 2010, home values in Nacogdoches increased by 29.8%, more than any U.S. city except for Clovis City, N.M. This may be a reflection of rising incomes in the region, which increased by 23.7%, from $24,310 a year to more than $30,000 a year between the 2007 to 2009 and 2010 to 2012 periods. Despite rising incomes, the area’s labor force did not grow considerably during the period. From 2007 to 2009, the percentage of people in the civilian labor force did not change meaningfully, while the area’s population rose by just 2.6%, from roughly 32,700 to 33,600. Nacogdoches County is home to large education and agriculture sectors. Stephen F. Austin State University is located in the city proper, where more than 33.3% of all employees in the city worked in education, health care and social assistance — more than most other cities in the United States.

1. New Bern, N.C.
> Pct. increase in income: 25.3%
> Median household income: $40,707
> Poverty rate: 22.8%
> Population: 30,074

Located less than two hours from Raleigh, New Bern’s median annual income rose from $32,476 in the three years ending in 2010 to $40,707 in the three years ending in 2012. No other city in America had such a considerable income growth. Additionally, during that time, the city’s civilian labor force participation rate jumped from 53% to nearly 62%. According to the New Bern Chamber of Commerce, the area’s “fast-growing population of highly skilled, active retirees has found employment in the small business and professional sectors.”

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