Incomes fell in 223 U.S. metro areas last year — including Asheville. Local per capita income dropped 2.2 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to Aug. 9 reports in the Wall Street Journal (Phil Izzo ‘s “U.S. Incomes Tumbled in 2009” and Conor Dougherty’s “Incomes Fall in Most Metro Areas”).
“Personal income took a hit in most of the U.S. last year with the only gains coming from government support, according to new data from the Commerce Department,” Izzo writes. On average, incomes fell 1.8 percent. Izzo compares that to a 2.7 percent increase in 2008 incomes. Nine regions saw no change; 134 saw income increases, but in about half of those, “the growth came from transfer receipts such as unemployment benefits or Social Security payments. In most of the remaining 57 metro areas, the gains were concentrated in the government sector, the Commerce Department said, including strong growth in military earnings.”
Prices also declined last year, but by only 0.2 percent.
Some of the worst income declines were in Texas, such as Midland’s 8.4-percent fall, Doughtery reports, also noting, “Among the 10 metro areas with the largest personal income growth, seven had a strong military presence, among them Jacksonville, N.C., which houses the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune and Fayetteville, N.C., home of the Army’s Fort Bragg.”
In just five metro areas did the private sector account for most of the earnings growth: Kennewick, Wash.; Cumberland, Md.; Morgantown, West V. Va.; Cape Girardeau, Mo.; and Ithaca, N.Y.
Nationally, unemployment remains at 9.5 percent.