Per Capita Personal Income

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See the other Capitol Research policy briefs in this series: The Book of the States 2011: Regional Analysis

Per capita personal income1 often is used to evaluate the economic well-being of a state’s residents. Nationally in 2010, inflation-adjusted per capita personal income grew by $780 after dropping more than $1,000 in 2009 and falling $541 in 2008.

National Analysis:

  • In 2010, national per capita personal income rose 2.33 percent to $40,584 after falling 2.6 percent in 2009. Per capita personal income, when adjusted for inflation,2 increased steadily throughout the 1990s, but growth rates became more volatile in the 2000s. Inflation-adjusted income dropped in 2008 and 2009, but increased in 2010 by $780. 
  • This measure of income ranges significantly across states, from a low of $31,186 in Mississippi and $32,234 in Idaho to a high of $56,001 in Connecticut and $51,551 in Massachusetts.
  • Only four states reported negative growth in 2010 over 2009, including Hawaii with a decrease of 2.76 percent and Nevada with a loss of 1.82 percent. The gains in Arizona, at 5.12 percent, and New York, at 4.72 percent, were the largest to per capita personal income in 2010. 
  • The states in CSG’s Eastern region had the highest average per capita personal income in 2010 at $45,595. The Midwest had the second highest average at $38,946, followed closely by the West at $38,893. The South had the lowest average income at $35,950 in 2010.
  • The trends in 2010 were markedly different than those in 2009, when all but two states—West Virginia and Maine—posted year-over-year losses to per capita income.
  • States in the West, on average, were hit the hardest in 2009, as four out the top five worst-performing states were in that region, each with losses exceeding 4 percent.

Regional Analysis:

  • The Midwest had an annual regional average growth rate that fell between the East, the highest regional performer in 2010, and the West, which had the lowest annual growth rate in 2010.
  • Michigan (3.6 percent), Illinois (3 percent), and Wisconsin (2.8 percent) had the highest gains in the Midwest in 2010.
  • Every state in the Midwestern region posted negative growth in 2009, ranging from smaller losses of about 1 percent in Ohio and North Dakota, to higher losses in South Dakota, with 4.4 percent, and Minnesota, with 3.3 percent.

  • The East had the highest average regional growth rate in 2010, with every state in the region posting growth.
  • New York (4.7 percent), Massachusetts (3.7 percent), and New Hampshire (3.3 percent) had the largest gains in the East in 2010.
  • The Eastern region saw some of the smallest losses on average in 2009, along with the South. Two states saw losses of more than 3 percent, including New York (-3.8 percent) and Connecticut (-3.3 percent).

  • The South had some of the most consistent growth rates throughout the region in 2010, with every state in the region posting positive growth.
  • Georgia (3.8 percent), Kentucky (3.3 percent), and Tennessee (2.9 percent) had the largest gains in the South in 2010. 
  • The Southern region saw some of the smallest losses on average in 2009, along with the East. In the South, however, three states saw losses of more than 3 percent, including Texas (-3.9 percent), Florida (-3.3 percent) and Georgia (-3.1 percent).

  • The West had the lowest regional average growth rate in 2010, with Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming posting negative growth 
  • Arizona (5.1 percent), Utah (3.1 percent), and Oregon (2.4 percent) had the largest gains in the West in 2010.
  • States in the West were hit the hardest in 2009 on average, as four of the top five worst-performing states were in that region, each with losses exceeding 4 percent. No states in the region posted positive growth in 2009.


1 Personal income has four major components—employee compensation, including wages and salaries and employer contributions for pensions and government social insurance; rental income; personal income receipts on assets, which includes interest and dividend income; and personal current transfer receipts, which includes government beneŠfits like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and veteran’s beneŠfits. Visit for more information.

2 In 2010 in’flation-adjusted dollars.