Personal income in the Spokane area and in Coeur d'Alene rose last year, but the growth rate for both cities lagged Seattle, Boise, and Portland markets as well as the U.S. average, recently released federal data show.
Defined as the income received from all sources by all people, personal income grew 2.2 percent in the Spokane metropolitan statistical area and 1.9 percent in Coeur d'Alene in 2010, compared with a growth rate of 2.5 percent in Boise, 2.6 percent in Seattle, and 3.1 percent in Portland. Tri-Cities showed 6.3 percent growth.
The average growth for all U.S. metropolitan areas last year was 2.9 percent, after falling 1.9 percent in 2009, based on estimates released last month by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. In releasing the data, the bureau commented on improved numbers in light of the U.S. continuing to recover from the recession that ended June 2009.
The report says growth of what's called personal transfer receipts, which include unemployment compensation, veterans' benefits, and Social Security, slowed to 7.8 percent for the national average in 2010, from 13.7 percent in 2009. In Spokane, transfer receipts in 2010 fell to 8.5 percent, down from 15.5 percent the prior year.
"Over a two-year period, I think it's important to mention that Spokane's personal income was buttressed by a slightly higher than the average of all the MSAs of transfer payments," says Patrick Jones, executive director of Eastern Washington University Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis.
For the combined two-year period, he adds, "Transfer payments in Spokane went up by 24 percent in Spokane, and across the country went up 21.5."
At the same time, Jones says he thinks it's also important to consider that personal income growth in Spokane looks rosier if evaluated in context with the income decline that peer communities saw in 2009.
The Spokane area's personal income showed 0.8 percent growth that year, while Seattle's showed a 0.9 percent decline and Boise's showed a 2.8 percent drop.
"Overall, the growth rate in Spokane has been higher over the two-year period of 2009 and 2010 than Boise and Seattle, when considering the net loss over that period," Jones says. "Over the last two years, looking at the growth rate, Spokane is still ahead compared to those two metropolitan areas."
He attributes much of this to Spokane having a diversified economy, as well as its strength in the health care industry.
As for the personal income change last year in other cities in the region, Yakima, Wash., showed a 3.2 percent growth; Lewiston, Idaho, was up 4.8 percent; Billings, Mont., was up 2.9 percent; and Eugene, Ore., was up 2 percent.
In a breakdown of 2010 personal income, the national average shows net earnings grew 2.3 percent which includes benefits and wages, but excludes what is paid for Social Security, disability, and other state insurance. Spokane's net earnings improved 0.2 percent, compared to a negative 2.3 percent in 2009.
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