Crook County per-capita income steadily rising

Local income per person rose from $28,872 in 2010 to $30,496 in 2011
Crook County still faces economic struggles — particularly with unemployment — but new data revealed an uptick in personal income.
   A new report filed by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows that the average per capita income in Crook County increased from $28,872 in 2010 to $30,496 in 2011, an improvement of about 5.3 percent. This represents the greatest year-over-year increase in per capita income since 2008 when the recession began.
   “Things seem to be perking up a little bit everywhere,” said Gail Krumenauer, economist for the Oregon Employment Department.
   BEA economist Jeff Newman noted that the percentage increase closely mirrors what has taken place at both the state and national level. He said that on average, per capita income in Oregon has increased 5.4 percent while the nationwide average improved by 5.2 percent.
   For Crook County, part of the uptick can be attributed to a slight decline in population, which dropped from 20,901 in 2010 to 20,839 in 2011. Because the overall personal income is divided among fewer people, the average income per person automatically goes up. For example, Crook County workers made $635,506,144 overall in 2011. If you divide that amount by the 2011 population of 20,839, you end up with an average of $30,496. If the population had remained at the 2010 level of 20,901, the average income comes to about $30,406, or about $90 less.
   Newman went on to highlight improvement in the net earnings for the health care and social assistance industry, which rose from $25 million overall in 2010 to $32 million in 2011. He could not say for sure what drove that increase, but noted that the change does not always means wages went up. Higher employer pension contributions, or other improved benefits could drive up the income.
   With the exception of that industry, Newman found no other obvious reasons why the Crook County per-capita income went up.
   “It’s steady throughout,” he said. “There is nothing that stands out as wow it’s just one thing.”
   Krumenauer noted that the net earnings for Crook County improved 7.3 percent from 2010 to 2011, outpacing Oregon (5.9 percent) and the nation (5.7 percent). Despite the improvement, Crook County still only ranks 28th among Oregon counties in per capita income, with workers earning 81 percent of the $37,527 state average, and 73 percent of the $41,560 national average.
   Nevertheless, Krumenauer is still encouraged by the income uptick.
   “I don’t have a strong reason to promote pessimism about it,” she said.