2022 South Coast Local Area Personal Income

by Guy Tauer

December 11, 2023

New figures published from the Bureau of Economic Analysis show healthy gains in Oregon and South Coast per capita personal income (PCPI) between 2021 and 2022. PCPI is just one of the figures recently released in the State and Local Area Personal Income series available now for 2022 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. 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.

In 2022, Coos County’s PCPI was $54,330 which was a decrease of 0.2% from 2021 and was the 1189th highest PCPI among 3,114 U.S. counties. Curry County’s PCPI was $51,950, also declining 0.2% over the year. The South Coast’s PCPI decline contrasted with slight growth for Oregon statewide (1.1%) and the U.S. increase (1.6%). Coos County’s PCPI was 87% of the statewide PCPI and 83% of the U.S. average per capita personal income. Curry County’s PCPI was 83% of the state average and 79% of the U.S. PCPI figure in 2022.
Graph showing Oregon and South Coast Per Capita Personal Income, 1969-2022

About 46% of Coos County’s personal income is from net earnings, which includes wage and salary income, farm, and non-farm proprietor income. In Curry County, 38% of personal income was from net earnings. The South Coast’s net earnings share of personal income was much lower than for the United States (62%) or Oregon statewide (60%).  Average earnings per job in Coos County was $59,201 compared with $71,601 for Oregon as a whole. Curry County’s net earnings per job was $46,940. Average nonfarm proprietor income in Coos County exceeded the Oregon average, at $46,450 versus the state’s $36,959. Non-farm proprietor income was lower in Curry County, at $24,982 in 2022.

Per capita personal current transfer receipts made up about 18% of U.S. personal income, 36% in Coos County, and 39% in Curry County. About 90% of the South Coast’s personal current transfer receipts were from “retirement and other income,” reflecting our slightly older population with more retirees than the state overall. Both Coos ($17,492) and Curry County ($18,520) had higher per capita retirement and other income than Oregon ($11,660). Coos ($1,747) and Curry County ($1,384) also had greater per capita “income maintenance” than the Oregon average ($1,229).

Dividends, interest, and rent income accounted for about 18% of Coos’ personal income in 2022, just slightly less than the share for the U.S. Dividends, interest and rent accounted for 24% of Curry County personal income, compared to 20% for the U.S. Since the late 1960s, Coos County’s PCPI gap with Oregon has ranged between -7.3% in the late 1970s to nearly -22% lower than the statewide in the year 2000. In 2021, the gap between Coos and Oregon’s PCPI was -$7,973 or -12.8% 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 statistics available from the State and Local Personal Income series published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. For more information, visit the website at www.bea.gov and explore the interactive tables, maps and other data.

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