2018 Local Area Personal Income in Josephine 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, let’s forge ahead and look at the new figures for 2018.

In 2018, Josephine County’s (Grants Pass MSA) PCPI was $40,977, the 296th 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 5.5 percent from 2017, slightly slower growth than for Oregon statewide (6.2%) and the U.S. (5.6%). 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’s share of personal income was much lower than for the United States (63%) or Oregon statewide (60%). Average earnings per job in Josephine County were $44,332 compared with $58,347 for Oregon as a whole. Average nonfarm proprietor income in Josephine County exceeded the Oregon average, at $36,795 versus the state’s $32,655.

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 ($13,831) than Oregon ($9,546).

Dividends, interest, and rent income accounted for about 20 percent of Josephine’s personal income in 2018, just slightly less than the share for the U.S. Josephine County also had a higher per capita income maintenance benefit, at $1,113 compared with Oregon’s $701 figure.

Since the mid-1970s, Josephine County’s PCPI gap with Oregon has ranged between  -16.3 percent (1989, 2005) and -22.8 percent (1979). In 2018, the gap between Josephine and Oregon’s PCPI was $9,866 or 19.4 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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