Talk of the Town

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Income grows slower than cost of living in Atlanta

A lot of things grow in Atlanta -- trees, kudzu, tropical plants -- but incomes? Not so much.

The Atlanta metro area ranks dead last in income growth among the nation’s larger cities, according to new state-by-state analysis on cost of living and debt from personal finance website, NerdWallet.

In Atlanta, the median household income increased about 4 percent since 2005, which is well below the 16 percent increase in the cost of living.

Despite the fact that Atlanta is one of the nation’s major business hubs, it has growing income inequality.

All of this means your money just doesn't go as far as it did a decade ago.

Meanwhile, in cities like Houston, the median household income increased almost 33 percent, while the cost of living only went up by 21 percent. Residents can thank the energy, aerospace and manufacturing industries for that.

You've probably heard about Houston-based Hilcorp giving each of its 1,381 employees a $100,000 bonus this year.

The nasty side effect of having the cost of living outpace income growth is an increase in debt, according to the study.

Georgians have an average credit card debt of $4,060.44; an average student loan debt of $24,517 and an average mortgage debt of $162,916.66.

But before you start packing your bags and heading toward the Lone Star, consider this last tidbit.

Atlanta may be slow to grow when it comes to incomes, but it is one of the places where a family can still live comfortably on an income of $75,000 a year.

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.