2018 Local Area Personal Income in Curry County

by Guy Tauer

December 10, 2019

New figures published from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show healthy gains in Oregon and Curry County 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, Curry County’s PCPI was $42,657 the 1,444th highest PCPI among 3,100 U.S. counties. Curry County’s PCPI rose by 5.0 percent from 2017, slightly slower growth than for Oregon statewide (6.2%) and the U.S. (5.6%). Curry County’s PCPI was 84 percent of the statewide PCPI and 78 percent of the U.S. average per capita personal income.
About 39 percent of Curry County’s PCPI is from net earnings, which includes wage and salary income, farm and non-farm proprietor income. Curry’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 Curry County were $39,112 compared with $58,347 for Oregon as a whole. Average nonfarm proprietor income in Curry County fell below the Oregon average, at $22,976 versus the state’s $32,655.

Per capita personal current transfer receipts made up about 17 percent of U.S. PCPI and 35 percent in Curry County. About 94 percent of Curry County personal current transfer receipts were from “retirement and other income,” reflecting our older population with more retirees than the state overall. Curry County had higher per capita retirement and other income ($14,149) than Oregon ($8,729). Curry County also has a $94 greater “per capita income maintenance” than the Oregon average.

Dividends, interest, and rent income accounted for about 26 percent of Curry’s personal income in 2018, a greater share than the share for the U.S. (21%). Since the late 1960s, Curry County’s PCPI gap with Oregon has ranged between -7.6 percent in 1986 to a peak of nearly 20 percent lower than the statewide figure in 1969. In 2018, the gap between Curry and Oregon’s PCPI was $8,186 or 16.1 percent below Oregon’s PCPI figure. Curry County’s PCPI has roughly paralleled Coos’ over the years, with Curry County income just slightly less than Coos’ since 2013. During the past few years during recovery from the Great Recession, the gap between Curry County and Oregon has grown slightly, reflecting the slower overall recovery and less income growth compared with the statewide average.

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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