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Economy in Brief

State Personal Income
by Charles Steindel  June 26, 2019

State personal income growth in the first quarter of 2019 averaged somewhat lower in the first quarter of 2019 than in the fourth quarter of 2018, but the variation in growth was fairly narrow. West Virginia reported the highest rate of growth, 5.6%, while South Dakota was the only state seeing a decline. Growth was generally low in the Plains states and some other portions of the Middle West, reflecting a sharp drop in farm income. Elsewhere, income growth in both Connecticut and New York trailed the national pace, reflecting declines in property income (dividends, rent and interest), which bore more heavily on the wealthy residents of those states. The drop in property income types explains why some poor states were relatively strong in the first quarter: Maine and New Mexico joined West Virginia in seeing personal income grow at a rate exceeding 5 percent (Arizona was also in that group).

While the typical focus of this release is on the growth rates, levels of personal income are widely skewed across the states. The aggregate income of California residents in 2019:Q1 was, at an annual rate, more than $2 ½ trillion; that of Vermont residents was less than $35 billion. Thus, a comparison of Vermont’s Q1 growth rate of 4.5% (11th in the nation) to California’s 3.1% (34th) hardly reveals much about how the two stand compared to each other!

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