Utah and Georgia enjoyed biggest income gains in latest report

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Americans living in Utah, Georgia and Washington state were the winners in 2016 in the ever-evolving U.S. economy. They enjoyed the biggest gains in inflation-adjusted incomes.

Real incomes for the average resident of the Beehive State and the Peach State rose 3.3% in 2016, according to newly released government figures. Incomes climbed 3% in Washington state.

Utah has become home to a growing U.S. tech industry on the prowl for locations with low taxes and regulations, a highly educated population and good quality of life.

Georgia, led by the supercharged Atlanta metro area, is one of the fastest growing states in the U.S. and the unofficial capital of the New South.

Washington, which has no state income tax, is home to corporate giants such as Boeing BA, +0.85%  , Amazon AMZN, +0.14%  and Microsoft MSFT, -0.14% Washington also was the fastest growing state in 2017.

Incomes in eight states declined in 2016, with all but one heavily involved in the production of oil and natural gas. Incomes fell 3.6% in Wyoming, 2.7% in Oklahoma, 1.9% in Louisiana and 0.8% in Texas.

Oil prices tumbled in 2016 and caused many energy producers to scale back.

Overall, real or inflation-adjusted income growth slowly sharply in 2016 to a U.S. average of 1.1% from 4.7% in 2015.

The decline stemmed in large part from an increase in inflation. The consumer price index rose 1.3% in 2016 from basically zero in 2015.

Among big cities, the Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C. and Orlando, Fla. metro areas posted the biggest increases in incomes. Incomes fell the most in the Houston, Denver and Pittsburgh metros.

The states with the highest cost of living in 2016 were the usual ones: Hawaii, New York and California and the District of Columbia. They also had the highest rents.

Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas were the cheapest places to live. And Cleveland had the lowest rents of all major U.S. cities.

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