2018 Local Area Personal Income in Coos County

by Guy Tauer

December 9, 2019

New figures published from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show healthy gains in Oregon and Rogue Valley per capita personal income (PCPI) between 2017 and 2018. PCPI is just one of the figures recently released in the State and Local Area Personal Income series available now for 2018 at www.bea.gov.

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. 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 2018.

In 2018, Coos County’s PCPI was $43,620, the 1,313th highest PCPI among 3,100 U.S. counties. Coos County’s PCPI rose by 5.6 percent from 2017, slightly slower growth than for Oregon statewide (6.2%) but matching the U.S. (5.6%). Josephine County’s PCPI was 86 percent of the statewide PCPI and 80 percent of the U.S. average per capita personal income.
About 51 percent of Coos County’s PCPI is from net earnings, which includes wage and salary income, farm and non-farm proprietor income. Coos County’s net earnings share of personal income was much lower than for the United States (63%) or Oregon statewide (60%).  Average earnings per job in Coos County were $47,453 compared with $58,347 for Oregon as a whole. Average nonfarm proprietor income in Coos County about equaled the Oregon average, at $32,919 versus the state’s $32,655.

Per capita personal current transfer receipts made up about 17 percent of U.S. PCPI and 33 percent in Coos County. About 92 percent of Coos County personal current transfer receipts were from “retirement and other income,” reflecting our older population with more retirees than the state overall. Coos County had higher per capita retirement and other income ($13,115) than Oregon ($8,729). Coos County also has about $300 greater “income maintenance” than the Oregon average.

Dividends, interest, and rent income accounted for about 20 percent of Coos’ personal income in 2018, just slightly less than the share for the U.S. Since the late 1960s, Coos County’s PCPI gap with Oregon has ranged between (-5%) in the late 1970s to a peak of nearly 30 percent lower than the statewide in the year 2000. In 2018, the gap between Coos and Oregon’s PCPI was $10,826 or 21.3 percent below Oregon’s PCPI figure. Curry County’s PCPI has roughly paralleled Coos’ over the years, with Coos County income just slightly greater than Curry’s since 2013.

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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