2017 Local Area Personal Income in Jackson County

by Guy Tauer

November 29, 2018

New figures published from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show healthy gains in Oregon and Rogue Valley per capita personal income (PCPI) between 2016 and 2017. PCPI is just one of the figures recently released in the State and Local Area Personal Income series available now for 2017 at www.bea.gov. We recently heard from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that both Rogue Valley counties had fast growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2016 and 2017. Jackson County had the 103rd fastest GDP growth among 384 metro areas in the U.S. Josephine County had the 31st fastest MSA GDP growth. But did this faster overall growth in economic output come with faster rising per capita income?

PCPI is one of the most often cited figures to measure an area’s overall economic health and prosperity. But there are a few factors that make this an imperfect yardstick to compare local areas and economies. Since the data use total income – earnings from work; personal current transfer receipts; and dividends, interest, and rent – and divide that by total population, areas with a higher concentration of older residents can show lower PCPI. The reason is that as people leave the labor force, they have likely passed their peak earning years, and therefore have less contribution to the net earnings component of income. Remember PCPI represents income, rather than wealth. Older residents may have substantial wealth, but not have as much relative income, and this wealth would not be captured in PCPI figures, unless it was income-generating investments that would show up in the “dividends, interest, and rent” portion of PCPI. Just as we’ve seen corporate profits rising much faster than average U.S. worker wages, faster growth in overall economic output doesn’t necessarily mean equally fast growth in per capita personal income.

Another limitation of comparing local economies using PCPI as a yardstick is that there is no accounting for the differences in cost-of-living among local areas. Places with lower cost of living and lower PCPI can be relatively as well-off as areas with higher cost of living and higher PCPI. Knowing the limitations of the data can help you understand how to view the figures in a clearer context. All that being said, lets forge ahead and look at the new figures for 2017.

In 2017, Jackson County’s (Medford MSA) PCPI was $44,369, the 174th highest PCPI among U.S. metro areas. A decade earlier, the Medford MSA ranked lower, with the 211th highest PCPI amongst 384 metropolitan statistical areas. Jackson’s PCPI rose by 3.3 percent from 2016, slightly slower growth than for Oregon statewide (3.7%) and the U.S. (3.6%). Jackson County’s PCPI was 92 percent of the statewide PCPI and 86 percent of the U.S. average per capita personal income.

About one-half of Jackson County’s PCPI is from net earnings, which includes wage and salary income and farm and non-farm proprietor income. Jackson County net earnings are only about 80 percent of the Oregon statewide net earnings figures. Average earnings per job in Jackson County were $48,118 compared with $57,502 for Oregon as a whole. Average nonfarm proprietor income in Jackson County about equaled the Oregon average, at $33,892 versus the state’s $33,594.

Per capita personal current transfer receipts made up about 17 percent of U.S. PCPI and 25 percent in Jackson County. About 90 percent of Jackson County personal current transfer receipts were from “retirement and other income,” reflecting our slightly
older population with more retirees than the state overall. Jackson County had higher per capita personal current transfer receipts ($10,996) than Oregon ($9,100).

Per capita dividends, interest, and rent income accounted for about 23 percent of Jackson’s PCPI in 2015, just slightly higher than for the U.S. at about 20 percent. Jackson County also had higher per capita dividends, interest, and rent income, at $9,992 compared with Oregon’s $9,793 figure.

In 2003, Jackson’s PCPI was only 4.4 percent below the statewide average. By 2008, Jackson County’s PCPI was 7.8 percent lower than Oregon’s, a difference of $2,878. By 2017, Jackson County’s PCPI  remained 7.8 percent lower, but the net difference increased to $3,777.

There are many other data and statistics available from the State and Local Personal Income series published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. For more information, visit the website and explore the interactive tables listed.

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