Personal Income Up in Most Cities for 2010


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Fears of a double-dip recession have been renewed in recent weeks, even if for many Americans it may feel like the first recession never really went away. Now, a new report proves that consumers in much of the U.S. did enjoy some financial recovery after the recession ended, though perhaps not enough to make much of a difference.

Personal income increased by 2.3% overall in U.S. metropolitan areas, after having declined by 1.9% the previous year when the recession officially ended, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal earnings, which includes just income from wages, increased by 2.3% in 2010 and property income, which includes interest and dividends, grew by 0.6% - a remarkable turnaround after having decreased by 4% and 6.1% respectively the year before.

In fact, personal income increased in all but four of the country’s 366 metropolitan areas last year, showing the far reach of the nation’s fiscal recovery. Several regions enjoyed growth of more than 7% – including Lawton, Okla. and Midland, Texas. One metropolitan area, Elizabethtown, Ky., saw its residents’ personal income increase by just more than 10%. For the most part though, the growth was more modest and may not have been enough to offset multiple years of declining earnings during the recession.

In the New York metropolitan area, for example, personal income increased by a healthy 3.6% in 2010, but it had declined by 3.9% the year before. Likewise, in Santa Fe, N.M., personal income increased by 2.2% in 2010, but only after it had declined by nearly a half percent more than that the year before.

The same anemic growth can be seen by profession as well. According to the BEA, only two private sector industries (professional services and management of companies) saw overall workers’ earnings increase by enough in 2010 to offset losses from the previous two years. Others lagged far behind. Earnings for employees in nondurable goods manufacturing increased by 3.5% in 2010, but had declined by 10.8% the year before.

Meanwhile, earnings for the construction and real estate industries continued to decline last year, though at a slower rate than in 2009, as these professions struggle to achieve even the mild recovery from the recession that others have experienced.

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