DOLLARS AND SENSE: Dude, where's my 32.2 percent raise?
The good news: NerdWallet recently deemed Champaign the third-fastest-growing city in Illinois, based on population growth, employment growth and income growth.
So, Champaign's experiencing a population boom? No. NerdWallet based its rankings on an index that gave equal weighting to each of those three categories. Champaign excelled only in income growth, not in population growth or employment growth.
So, Champaign's getting a lot richer? You be the judge. To measure income growth, NerdWallet looked at the 2012 American Community Survey's findings for growth in median income over three years. According to those findings, median income in Champaign jumped an astonishing 32.2 percent.
Among Illinois cities, that was exceeded only by DeKalb's 35.3 percent leap. Most cities had single-digit percentage increases or decreases.
So, maybe they didn't figure the percentage correctly? No, the percentage is correct. The American Community Survey said the 2010-12 estimate of median earnings for workers in Champaign was $18,960, up from the 2007-09 estimate of $14,340 — an increase of 32.2 percent. The median is the point at which half the workers earn more and half the workers earn less.
Yikes, those figures are low. So, maybe I'm better off than I thought? Maybe. But remember, those figures for median earnings include part-time workers, not just full-time workers. If you look only at full-time year-round workers, the estimate of median earnings for men in Champaign was $46,163 (down from $49,229 three years earlier) and the estimate of median earnings for women in Champaign was $37,237, down from $39,447.
What was the good news again?