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Income growth in Washington outpaces U.S. as a whole

Joblessness may be high in Washington state, but at least those people with jobs seem to be doing well.

Washington posted the 8th-fastest growth rate in personal income during the first quarter of the year, according to figures released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Total personal income rose 2.08 percent in the first quarter, to $304.1 billion, according to the BEA data. That was due to strong increases in wage and salary income, business owners’ income, fringe benefits and dividends, and despite a 0.6 percent decline in unemployment insurance, welfare and other “transfer payments” from government.

The bureau attributed much of the personal-income growth to a two-percentage-point reduction in the Social Security tax, part of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.

Earnings growth was highest in the durable-goods manufacturing, information and professional/technical services sectors — likely reflecting hiring at the Puget Sound region’s aerospace and software companies and the businesses that support them.

Washington had the nation’s highest growth rate in personal income from durable-goods manufacturing last quarter: 7.5 percent.

Total earnings fell, however, in construction and real estate, as well as among managers of companies, indicating continuing weak spots in Washington’s economy, as well as in seasonal industries such as farming and nondurable-goods manufacturing (mostly food processing).

Nationally, personal income growth accelerated to 1.8 percent in the first quarter from 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the BEA. Encouragingly, total personal income grew in all states.

North Dakota led the nation with 6.9 percent growth; Iowa brought up the rear with 0.7 percent.


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