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Spokane County’s total personal income: A 2009 graphic shows some modest gains

The Bureau of Economic Analysis does periodic snapshots of counties and states, using the best numbers it can digest. It just released some per-capita incomes for counties across the U.S., going back to 2009.

The notable and interesting tidbit, relative to Spokane, is that Spokane had total personal income in 2009 of $16.2 billion, placing it fourth in the state and accounting for 5.7 percent of the state total.

In 1999, by comparison, Spokane's TPI was $10.2 billion, also fourth in Washington at the time. That was a 4.8 percent gain over 10 years, which exactly matched Washington state's growth over the same period.

Also notable: from 2008 to 2009, while nearly the rest of the country saw a decline in total personal income, Spokane's number actually grew by .8 percent in that one year. Across Washington as a whole the drop in TPI was 0.5 percent from 2008 to 2009.

So something positive was happening, but it was relatively tiny. Digging a bit deeper, the BEA stats (at this link) show that the gain in 2009 was not wage-related.

2008-2009 percent change
  Spokane Washington U.S.
Net earnings - 2.3 % - 2.6 % - 4.0 %
Dividends, interest, and rent - 3.8 % - 4.9 % - 5.9 %
Personal current transfer receipts 15.5 % 17.4 % 13.4 %

As this chart shows, the major gain in those 12 months was the increase in countywide transfer receipts. Which are pensions, social security payments, welfare disbursements and subsidies for businesses.  If there's any comfort in the numbers, it's that Spokane didn't face the same wage losses as the U.S. and Washington as a whole did between 2008 and 2009.

Footnote: TPI is the broad number that encompasses all forms of income, including wages, dividends, rents, and transfer payments (including primarily pension and welfare payments). It excludes corporate revenue.


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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.