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Merced County average income falling further behind; area ranks near bottom of US metro areas

Northern San Joaquin Valley incomes continue to fall further behind the rest of the nation.

Personal incomes averaged $41,455 in metropolitan regions nationwide last year, but Merced County incomes lagged at $25,221.

Valley incomes always have been lower than elsewhere in American, but the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics released this morning show the gap is widening.

On a per person basis, Merced County residents earned nearly $16,000 less than those in other metropolitan regions last year.

Of the 366 metropolitan regions measured in 2008, Merced was near the bottom at 355th. Stanislaus incomes ranked 309th, and San Joaquin was 318th.

While the Bureau of Economic Analysis calculated that valley incomes increased in 2008 compared to 2007, the growth was significantly less than elsewhere in the nation.

Stanislaus per capita incomes increased 1.6 percent, San Joaquin 1.5 percent and Merced just 0.8 percent. Average for metropolitan regions was 2.2 percent and for the nation as a whole it was 2.5 percent.

Guess it could be worse. Several metropolitan communities saw per capita incomes drop last year. Atlanta dipped 0.2 percent, but residents there still earn an average $37,655.

Per capita personal income growth rates ranged from 12.0 percent in Hinesville, Georgia to -3.7 percent in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Per capita personal income growth is a measure which highlights differences in economic conditions across regions by removing the effect of different population growth rates.

Stimulus Act of 2008 were targeted toward lower income families, the contribution of these rebates to per capita personal income growth varied inversely with each region's per capita incomes.

For example, the rebate contributed 1.7 percent to personal income growth in McAllen, Texas, which last year had the nation’s lowest per capitaincome: $19,377.

The rebate only contributed 0.1 percent to growth in Bridgeport, Conn., which had the nation's highest per capita income: $82,266.

Per capita personal income is calculated as the personal income of the residents of a given area divided by the resident population of the area.