Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Personal Income Up in Region

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Personal Income Up in Region

Article excerpt

ECONOMIC LIFT: If the trend holds, experts say, expect a rise in spending as well

There is a good reason why retailers think they might wring a little more money from recession-weary consumers this year -- those buyers have more to spend.

For the first time since the start of the Great Recession, every major metropolitan area in the country saw an increase in personal income last year, according to data released Monday by the government.

The 2011 data is the most recent year charted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, but assuming that the trend holds this year, it bodes well for Southwest Florida and the nation's recovery, which is reliant on consumers spending more money.

Income growth slowed some in the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota market, but there was still a healthy 3.6 percent increase to $47,732 per capita. That compared with a 4.1 percent rise in 2010.

Charlotte County saw a stronger surge, but from a deeper hole, seeing its rate rise from an anemic 1.4 percent in 2010 to 4.5 percent last year. The metropolitan statistical area's personal income was $35,161 per capita in 2011.

"We are several years into the economic recovery, so all the boats are starting to be lifted -- a little bit," said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist who regularly updates his "Florida and Metro Forecast."

Personal income includes wages and salaries, property income such as dividends and rent and transfer payments like Social Security.

Of the 366 metropolitan areas nationally, growth in the measure ranged from 1 percent in Rochester, Minn., to 14.8 percent in Odessa, Texas.

Personal income measured across the nation rose 5.2 percent in 2011, up from 3.9 percent in 2010. Even adjusting for higher price inflation of 2.4 percent a year for 2011, real personal income still rose, the government said.

The breakdown of the overall figure:

What the bureau calls property income -- stock dividends, interest and rents -- are part of the personal income figure, and grew by a substantial 7.6 percent for all metro areas in 2011, double the 3.6 percent growth rate of 2010.

Transfer payments like Medicare, Social Security and unemployment insurance slowed to 1. …

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