2017 Local Area Personal Income in Josephine County

by Guy Tauer

December 6, 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 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, Josephine County’s (Grants Pass MSA) PCPI was $38,896, the 304th highest PCPI among U.S. metro areas. A decade earlier, the Grants Pass MSA ranked lower, with the 326th highest PCPI amongst 383 metropolitan statistical areas. Josephine’s PCPI rose by 3.2 percent from 2016, slightly slower growth than for Oregon statewide (3.7%) and the U.S. (3.6%). Josephine County’s PCPI was 81 percent of the statewide PCPI and 75 percent of the U.S. average per capita personal income.
About 46 percent of Josephine County’s PCPI is from net earnings, which includes wage and salary income, farm and non-farm proprietor income. Josephine County net earnings are only about 61 percent of the Oregon statewide net earnings figures. Average earnings per job in Josephine County were $43,316 compared with $57,502 for Oregon as a whole. Average nonfarm proprietor income in Josephine County about equaled the Oregon average, at $34,541 versus the state’s $33,594.

Per capita personal current transfer receipts made up about 17 percent of U.S. PCPI and 34 percent in Josephine County. About 90 percent of Josephine County personal current transfer receipts were from “retirement and other income,” reflecting our slightly
older population with more retirees than the state overall. Josephine County had higher per capita personal current transfer receipts ($13,235) than Oregon ($9,100).

Per capita dividends, interest, and rent income accounted for about 20 percent of Josephine’s PCPI in 2017, equaling the share for the U.S. Josephine County also had higher per capita income maintenance benefit, at $1,150 compared with Oregon’s $739 figure.

Josephine County’s PCPI is continually below the statewide average. The greatest percentage gap was in 1979, when Josephine PCPI was 22.7 percent below Oregon PCPI. In 2017, the gap between Josephine and Oregon’s PCPI was $9,241 or 19.2 percent below Oregon’s PCPI figure.

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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