New estimates of local area personal income for 2010 were released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data contain a wealth of information about aggregate income and its sources for every county in the United States. But perhaps the best measure for comparing economic well-being in different areas is per capita income. Previously released data showed that per capita income growth was 2.8% for the U.S. in 2010, and 2.3% for Arkansas. The new data show that 41 of Arkansas’ 75 counties exceeded the national growth rate. A total of 58 counties had growth rates that exceeded the rate of CPI inflation for 2010 (1.64%), implying real income growth.
County growth rates ranged from a low of -1.1% in Perry county to a high of 9.7% in Jackson county. The distribution of growth rates by county is illustrated in the map below (and detailed in a table at the end of this article). Northwest Arkansas has long been an area of rapid income growth, but a more remarkable observation about the 2010 data is the strong growth rates exhibited in the Delta region: The counties of Arkansas, Asheley, Chicot, Drew, Jackson, Lee, Lincoln, Monroe, Phillips and Woodruff all had per capita income growth rates exceeding 4%.
A long-sought objective for economic development in Akansas has been to raise per capita personal income to a level equal to the national average. Because the Arkansas growth rate was slightly lower than the U.S. average, the ratio of statewide per capita income to U.S. per capita income declined a bit in 2010, from 83% to 82%. The two highest-income counties in the state, Pulaski and Union, remained above the national average but showed small relative declines. The most rapidly growing county, Jackson County, showed an increase from 76% of average U.S. income in 2009 to 81% in 2010.