Personal income for 2009 drops 4.1% in county

Personal income earned by Mesa County residents dropped 4.1 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Sixteen of Colorado’s 64 counties experienced a greater personal-income decrease than Mesa County in 2009. Pitkin County had the biggest drop, collecting 9.9 percent less personal income in 2009 than in 2008.

Twenty-three counties, mostly in southern and eastern Colorado, saw an influx of personal income in 2009 compared to the previous year. Baca County had the largest year-over-year increase, bringing in 9.8 percent more personal income in 2009 than in the previous year.

Personal income includes wages and salary earnings, farm income and benefits from sources such as Social Security and unemployment payments. According to the bureau, most swings in personal income in counties with a population of less than 50,000 people could be attributed to changes in farm income.

For larger counties, an increase in people receiving unemployment benefits and changes in pay or work hours played a larger role in income fluctuations. People who went from earning a decent wage to making no more than $450 a week in unemployment benefits could have contributed to Mesa County’s personal-income decrease, according to Mesa County Workforce Center Supervisor Gilbert Lujan. He predicts a larger decrease in Mesa County personal income will be reported when 2010 numbers are released.

“People didn’t really feel the effects (of the recession) until 2010. They were probably still living on savings or selling things to make money in 2009,” he said.

Thursday’s data release covered every county in the nation.

A Bureau of Economic Analysis data release last year detailed personal income decreases and increases in 366 metropolitan areas.

That release showed Grand Junction had one of the 20 largest decreases in personal income among U.S. metropolitan areas in 2008 compared to 2009.

About one-third of Colorado’s counties, including Mesa County, ranked in the bottom 20 percent in 2009 for year-over-year changes in personal income among all U.S. counties.


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