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Slicing and Dicing Income Data

December 7, 2012

by Jeff Pinkerton

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its 2011 per-capita income data last week. This release provides a wealth (pardon the pun) of data that we can look at in a number of ways.

On a national level, the data includes some interesting facts. For example, would you have expected to find the second highest per-capita income in the country in the small, Great Plains metro area of Midland, Texas?

Our local income data is more predictable. The chart below shows the change in real (inflation-adjusted) per-capita income for each county in the MARC region as well as the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as a whole. Not surprisingly, Johnson County leads the way with a 2011 per-capita income of $56,550. Platte County is a distant second at $44,561. Miami County’s rise from just over $35,000 in 2001 to more than $42,000 in 2011 is notable.

This chart also demonstrates that, overall, real incomes have been fairly flat over the last 10 years.  The MSA saw incomes climb slowly between 2001 and 2008, but those gains appear to have been washed away during the recession. Growth in per-capita income has been positive since 2009, but very modest.

PCI by County

The bureau’s data goes much further than simple county totals. We can slice and dice the data in all sorts of ways. For example, we can also see which industries are contributing to the changing incomes. The chart below shows the real change in total earnings by industry for the Kansas City metro between 2001 and 2011.

The industries that generated the greatest increases in total income were educational services, health care, administrative and professional-technical services. Industries like retail, information, construction and real estate show declines.

A couple points of clarification:

  • First, the Bureau of Economic Analysis classifies public education under government. The  educational services category only includes private educational services. This is a very small industry in the Kansas City area, accounting for less than 1 percent of all non-farm earnings.
  • Second, the chart measures total earnings, so the overall totals likely reflect changes in employment as well as changes in earnings. For example, employment losses in construction, information and real estate contributed significantly to the overall decline in total earnings in those categories.

PCI by Industry

These charts are just the tip of the income-data iceberg. We will continue to mine this data and bring you the facts you need to know.

For you data junkies out there who want to do your own slicing and dicing, we have compiled the income data for the MARC region and all local counties at our data website Metrodataline, our regional data website. You’ll find a link to the income data under the Personal Income by Major Source and Earnings by Industry heading.

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