In yet another sign of economic improvement, personal income for Napa County residents increased 5.1 percent in 2011, according to new statistics recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The per capita personal income rose to $51,253, up from revised amount of $48,765 in 2010. This is still below the peak of $51,712 in 2008.
“Things are getting better,” said Jordan G. Levine, director of economic research at Beacon Economics in Los Angeles.
“I interpret this as part of a broader trend we have been seeing across the state,” Levine said. “More folks are getting back to work. As the unemployment rate goes down we see per capita income rising. You don’t have as many folks with zero incomes.”
Per capita personal income is the total personal income of all residents, including retirees and children, divided by the total population. For example, if a married couple earns a total of $80,000 per year, each partner has a per capita income of $40,000. If that couple has two children, the family’s per capita incomes would each be $20,000.
Napa County personal income compares favorably to the rest of the state and country. In 2011, the state per capita personal income was as $43,647. In the U.S. it was $41,560, statistics show.
The county’s income also compares favorably to surrounding counties. From 2010 to 2011, the per capita personal income in Solano County increased 3.1 percent to $38,078 and in Sonoma County increased 4.7 percent to $45,331.
Because Napa County’s per capita income is higher, “That speaks to the quality of the jobs and demographics” of the county, Levine said. “It shows we are adding jobs of good quality.”
Consumer spending is a big part of our economy, the economist noted. “That is heavily impacted by incomes. If incomes rise, that means folks have more disposable income. If they have more income they have additional money to spend, which can lead to economic growth.”
In terms of quality of life, per capita incomes are generally used to measure how well-off a place is, Levine said. “Places with higher per capita incomes are usually associated with positive demographic characteristics like educational attainment, the quality of jobs that folks work in, and the structure of the economy in terms of who works in what sectors.”
The economist said that he expects to see per capita personal incomes rise in the area. “I feel pretty confident that Napa County will see solid income growth in 2012. Not huge growth, but it will continue that trend.”