Personal income is growing at an uneven pace in America's cities, with the fastest growth along the East Coast and the slowest in oil-producing states, a government report shows.

Twenty-three of the nation's 318 metropolitan areas in 1987 registered per capita income growth at least 2 percentage points above the national average of 6 percent, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.Seven of those cities were in New England; six were in the Middle Atlantic region; five were in the Southeast.

Income in 60 metropolitan areas, meanwhile, grew at a rate that was at least 2 percentage points below the national average. Forty-one of those areas were in the oil-producing states of Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.

"A lot of growth in New England is driven by services and high-tech industries," said Kathy Albetski of the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. "The slow growth was driven by the weakness in oil."

The fastest growth rate was recorded in the Visalia-Tulare-Porter-ville region of California, but that was largely because incomes there were relatively low to begin with. The area's per capita income rose 9.7 percent to $12,968, a level still well below the national average.

At the other end of the scale, two regions registered declines in 1987: per capita income fell 1.4 percent in Flint, Mich., to $14,723, and dropped 0.6 percent in Lafayette, La., to $12,363.

In a ranking of income levels, first place belonged to the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk-Danbury area of Connecticut, with per capita income of $26,316.

Bringing up the rear was the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area of Texas, at $7,001.

For the nation as a whole, per capita income in 1987 was $15,484, up from $14,609 a year earlier.

In addition to the Bridgeport region, here are the other metropolitan areas in the top 10 for 1987 per capita personal income:

San Francisco, $24,593; Bergen-Passaic, N.J., $23,040; Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, N.J., $22,783; and Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y., $22,001.

In addition to the McAllen region, here are the other metropolitan areas in the bottom 10 for 1987 per capita personal income:

Laredo, Texas, $7,035; Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas, $7,409; Provo-Orem, Utah, $8,870; El Paso, Texas, $9,484.