San Diego is among the most prosperous large cities in California. |

Prosperity Indicators in SoCal Cities

Carrie Rossenfeld Finance & Capital Markets

San Diego is one of the most prosperous large cities in California, which has the highest concentration of these cities in the country, according to a recent report by RENTCafé.com, a nationwide apartment search website that is a part of Yardi. The firm recently looked at six indicators of prosperity in US cities with populations exceeding 100,000 to see how they changed between 2000 and 2016 according to U.S. Census data, then singled out the cities that have made the most progress overall, ranking them by their changes in population size, median income, home values, the share of inhabitants holding a higher education degree, poverty rate and unemployment rate.

California claims five spots in the list of the top 20 most prosperous cities, with Fontana — boasting a 60 percent surge in population size and similar growth in the share of bachelor’s-degree holders — ranking fourth. (Looking at other SoCal cities, Los Angeles ranked 17th and Pasadena ranked 20th.)

Temecula saw the most significant increase (90 percent) in population size; unfortunately, the city has also experienced a whopping 73 percent increase in unemployment in the last 16 years. Irvine and Huntington Beach both posted high increases in home value at 70 percent and 61 percent, respectively. In Irvine, home prices and poverty had the same growth rate: 41 percent.

Nationwide, only 11 out of the 300 cities we analyzed saw improvements across all prosperity indicators between 2000 and 2016, and Los Angeles and Long Beach were the only California cities among them. Both cities showed significant increases in terms of home value and the education level of their workforce. However, the huge discrepancy between wage growth and home-value change (0 percent wage growth vs. 64 percent home-value change in L.A.) shows that middle-class workers are not benefiting from the prosperity of the cities in which they live, according to RENTCafé.

More specific prosperity-indicator information on San Diego, Orange County, and San Bernardino County cities can be found in the chart below.

Data Source: U.S. Census | Courtesy RENTCafé