Statistics were gathered from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Department of Commerce.
Using a weighted scale, seven categories were looked at for cities that had more than 150,000 people working in that city:
Wage growth (20% weight), job growth (20% weight), unemployment (10% weight), percentage of jobs open (10% weight), renter affordability (15% weight), homeowner affordability (15% weight), real per capita personal income (10% weight).
“When I heard that on the radio on the way to work, I said, 'wow! Hey! Look at that!'” Jim Lee said, professor of economics at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Out of 155 cities, the study found Sioux Falls, S.D. as the most affordable and Los Angeles, Calif. as the least affordable. After Los Angeles, came Hartford, Conn. and then Corpus Christi.
Some reasoning given for results could be that 20% more people moved in 2021 than in 2020. U.S. News and World Report found an accelerated amount of people that moved in 2021 to have left densely populated cities and moved to small and mid-size cities.
When Lee first heard about the study, he was surprised. He was even more surprised when he started taking a look at the numbers.
“When you take into account very low job growth, and relatively high (un)employment and all those factors, and wage growth which actually, it’s sub par. So, if you take all these into consideration all of a sudden, Corpus Christi came up to the top,” he said.
Some are skeptical how Corpus Christi could be so low on the list. Lee compared the numbers between Corpus Christi and Austin, a city many to believe growing, and expensive.
"Austin also topped out the whole country in job growth," Lee said. "It's one of the very few cities that actually now have more jobs than before the pandemic. That's not the case for Corpus Christi. We've been improving a lot, but I don't think we can say, wow, we have stellar job growth."
To put it simply, every city has been hit by COVID-19, inflation and rising costs in buying a home. So, how can Corpus Christi be less affordable than New York City? Well, Lee said low income families are hit harder and take longer to recover.
"We have proportionately more of our residents actually making low income or minimum wage, around $10 an hour. So, that’s the difference," he said.
Turning to the housing market. Austin's housing market is growing faster than Corpus Christi.
Carol Graves has been a real estate agent in Corpus Christi for the last four years and said she's seen the rental market rise 15%.
She primarily helps families relocate. When they get excited about the prospect of moving to the Coastal Bend, she said they're surprised by the cost.
“I’ve noticed that often times the property tax and the insurance is more than the principle and the interest," Graves said. "So, it usually gives them an eye opener of the difference and the cost of living versus here and other states."
Lee and Graves said that Corpus Christi is affordable for the working person. But if you look at everything inclusively, then you find Corpus Christi at the bottom of this study.
We reached out to the author of the study, but they declined to comment and further explain the findings.