Boeing (copy)

Boeing Co.’s campus in the Lowcountry, where workers assemble the 787 Dreamliner commercial plane, has helped land Charleston and North Charleston on a list of the top five most prosperous cities in the U.S. File/Staff

The Lowcountry may be having traffic problems, but many of the people sitting in their cars every day have brought something else to the region: prosperity.

A new report proclaims Charleston and North Charleston are among the top five most prosperous cities in the U.S.

California-based online apartment service RentCafe measured municipalities with at least 100,000 people in six prosperity indicators between 2000 and 2016. They include changes in population, income, home values, education, poverty and unemployment over the time span.

Charleston ranked No. 3, just below oil-rich Odessa, Texas, and the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. The Holy City also is one of only 11 cities, out of 303 in the survey, to show improvements in all six categories.

Charleston's population grew 35 percent, income is up 16 percent, home values rose 39 percent, higher education attainment is up 34 percent, poverty dropped 15 percent and unemployment dipped 10 percent.

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Home is where the $$$ is Housing inventory predicted to remain tight, driving prices higher (copy)

A 39 percent increase in home values between 2000 and 2016 helped Charleston finish No. 3 on a recent list of the most prosperous cities in the United States. File/Staff

The study cited the presence of aerospace giant Boeing Co.'s airplane assembly operation, which landed in the Lowcountry in 2009, as a key factor in boosting Charleston's ranking.

North Charleston, where Boeing is located next to Charleston International Airport, came in fifth, mainly for its leaps in population (34 percent), home values (59 percent) and higher education (53 percent).

The state's third largest city — Charleston and Columbia take the top two spots, respectively — saw a 2 percent decline in poverty and a 1 percent drop in its jobless rate, but it slipped 3 percent in income during the study period.

Coming in just ahead of North Charleston was Fontana, Calif., east of Los Angeles.

The report also ranked large metropolitan areas. Washington, D.C., took the top nod, followed by Miami and New York.

"Most of us would agree that a city has to be capable of progress, and vitality is – ahem – vital if it is to be considered attractive in the long run," RentCafe said in its report. "After all, a city must be better today than it was yesterday, but also have the momentum to reach a bit further tomorrow to keep itself on the radar."

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.