Oregon Per Capita Personal Income Continues to Rise

News Release
March 25, 2011 Download PDF

Oregon’s per capita personal income in 2010 continued its upward trend, rising 2 percent in inflation-adjusted terms over the past decade despite two recessions, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy’s analysis of preliminary data released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Download a copy of this news release:

Oregon Per Capita Personal Income Continues to Rise(PDF), March 25, 2011

Related materials:

Vist the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) webpage Regional Economic Accounts.

Read the BEA's news release State Personal Income 2010, March 23, 2011

Read the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities' report States Continue to Feel Recession’s Impact, March 9, 2011

For 2010, Oregon’s per capita personal income was $37,095, the BEA said.

The bureau could not say whether the 2010 figure represented a change from the prior year. BEA now considers its previously published per capita personal income figures for 2001 through 2009 unreliable, because the population assumptions used for that calculation do not match up with the 2010 Census results. BEA expects to release per capita personal income figures for 2001 through 2009 in September.

BEA’s decade-to-decade data remains reliable, and it shows that Oregon’s per capita personal income has risen each of the past four decades. From 1970 to 2010, the state’s inflation-adjusted per capita income has increased from $22,070 to $37,095 — a 68 percent increase.

“The BEA data show that Oregon’s big business lobby’s repeated claims that Oregon’s per capita personal income has been on a long-term decline are false,” said OCPP executive director Chuck Sheketoff.

In the latest BEA report, Oregon’s per capita personal income ranked 30th among all states. There were 18 states with per capita personal income above the national average and 32 with per capita personal income below the national average.

“Although some business leaders, editorial writers and politicians have argued that Oregon’s below-average per capita personal income hampers Oregon’s ability to fund state services like education and human services, the claim does not stand up to scrutiny,” said Sheketoff.

“Just as a homeowner can still afford to mow the lawn or subscribe to a daily newspaper even if everyone else in the neighborhood received pay increases, Oregon can afford to continue to provide public services even if other states’ per capita income grew faster,” he added.

Sheketoff noted that of the 29 states with higher per capita personal income than Oregon, 26 are facing revenue shortfalls.

The three states without revenue shortfalls are Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota. All three of them are small population states that derive significant revenues from energy resources, Sheketoff said.

He also noted that among the 20 states ranking below Oregon in terms of per capita personal income, three of them — Montana, Arkansas and West Virginia — are not currently facing revenue shortfalls.

“Whether we as a state can continue to fund our schools, health and human services and public safety — programs that low-income and middle-class Oregonians rely upon almost every day — depends on whether we decide to raise the necessary revenue,” Sheketoff said. “Our revenue shortfall stems from the recession and anemic recovery. Whether other states have higher per capita personal income is irrelevant.”

BEA also released total — not per person — personal income data for the states.

OCPP’s analysis of that data found that Oregonians’ total personal income in 2010 increased last year by 1 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over 2009, more than making up for about a quarter-of-one percent (0.26 percent) decline in total personal income in 2009.

The small decline in 2009, a recession year, was the first time since 1982 that Oregon’s total personal income had declined year over year, according to Sheketoff.

“Overall and on average we’re having growth in personal income, but the growth is not fairly shared among Oregonians,” he said. “The problem is that for a long time now the income gains largely have been flowing to the very top.”

The Oregon Center for Public Policy is a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues. The Center’s goal is to improve decision making and generate more opportunities for all Oregonians.