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Making more money? Some of Michigan's per-capita income gains among best in U.S., report shows
[November 26, 2012]

Making more money? Some of Michigan's per-capita income gains among best in U.S., report shows

Nov 26, 2012 (Detroit Free Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Michigan's metropolitan areas recorded some of the best percentage gains in per-capita personal income of any urban areas in the U.S. in 2011, according to new government data reported today.

The Monroe metro area saw its per-capita personal income rise 3.3% in 2011 from the year before, the 17th-best showing of any of the 366 metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Metro Detroit saw its per-capita personal income rise 2.9% and the Ann Arbor and Bay City metro areas saw their income rise 2.7%.

For a state so accustomed to bad economic news, the brisk rise in personal incomes struck many as worth celebrating.

"When was the last time that Michigan could brag that we had nine metros in the top 65, with Monroe in the top 20, and Detroit, Ann Arbor and Bay City in the top 40 " said Kurt Metzger, a demographer and director of the nonprofit group Data Driven Detroit.

-- RELATED: Ann Arbor is #1, Muskegon ranks last: Michigan's metro areas by per-capita personal income Charles Ballard, a professor of economics at Michigan State University, offered a few cautions on the upbeat numbers released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency within the U.S. Commerce Department.

"Remember, it's a percentage increase, so you can have a good percentage increase either because you're doing well or you're starting from a low base. We had some room to grow after the decade that we had before," he said Monday.

As a stark illustration of that point, the highest metro area income level in Michigan in 2011 (the Ann Arbor area's $40,821) was still lower than the per-capita personal income figure for the nation as a whole at $41,560.

And adjusted for inflation, most of Michigan's metro areas posted lower per-capita personal income levels in 2011 than they had recorded in 1999, before the start of Michigan's "lost decade" of economic decline. Metro Detroit's 2011 income level of $40,009 was below its 1999 figure of $42,533.

-- RELATED: Top, bottom 10 Michigan counties by personal income: Oakland, Leelanau, Midland lead; Luce, Montcalm, Oscoda trail Ballard said there is also a possibility that figures for 2012, when released in another year, won't show the same buoyant percentage gains that the state enjoyed in 2011. Employment gains in Michigan this year have been modest, and may not produce the same income boost that the state saw in 2011.

Despite those caveats, the BEA numbers released Monday still seemed cause for celebration in a state so accustomed to bad economic news. And, indeed, personal income rose in 2011 in all of the nation's 366 metro areas for the first time since 2007, the BEA said. Personal income growth ranged from 14.8% in Odessa, Texas, to 1.0% in Rochester, Minn.

One Michigan metro that didn't share in the rising income levels was the Lansing area, which recorded a 2011 decline in per-capita personal income of one-tenth of a percentage point.

The BEA report did not venture to explain what factors affected each area, but Metzger suggested that the loss of government jobs in Michigan might have affected the Lansing area's numbers last year.

Per-capita personal income, which is defined as personal income divided by population, in metro areas in 2011 ranged from a high of $78,504 in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., to $21,620 in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, the BEA report said.

Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or ___ (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press Visit the Detroit Free Press at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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