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County and metropolitan area personal income, 1986-88.

County and Metropolitan Area Personal Income, 1986-88

THIS article presents summary estimates of total and per capita personal income for 1986-88 for metropolitan areas and counties. Table 1 contains estimates for county-based metropolitan areas as defined for statistical purposes by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. These areas include consolidated metropolitan statistical areas (CMSA's) - large, complex areas that consist of two or more primary metropolitan statistical areas (PMSA's) - and metropolitan statistical areas (MSA's). The metropolitan areas in New England are defined in terms of cities and towns rather than counties; the estimates presented here are for the alternative area definition - New England county metropolitan areas (NECMA's).(1) Table 2 contains estimates for 3,106 counties and county equivalents. The smaller independent cities of Virginia are combined with adjacent counties in these estimates.

The 1988 estimates are presented for the first time. The 1986 and 1987 estimates are revised and supersede those presented in the April 1989 Survey of Current Business. The estimates for 1983-88, including income by major type and labor and proprietors' earnings by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) industry division, will be presented in the forthcoming five-volume set Local Area Personal Income, 1983-88. A detailed description of the sources and methods used to derive the estimates will be included in each volume. The full set of estimates for 1969-88, in greater industrial detail, is available in several forms from BEA's Regional Economic Information System, as explained on page 33.

Definition of total and per capita

personal income

The personal income of an area is defined as the income received by, or on behalf of, all the residents of the area. It consists of the income received by persons from all sources - that is, from participation in production, from both government and business transfer payments, and from government interest. Personal income is measured as the sum of wage and salary disbursements, other labor income, proprietors' income, rental income of persons, personal dividend income, personal interest income, and transfer payments, less personal contributions for social insurance.

In the national and regional economic accounts, persons are defined as individuals, nonprofit institutions serving individuals, private noninsured welfare funds, and private trust funds.

The definitions underlying the local area estimates of personal income are essentially the same as those underlying the personal income estimates in the national income and product accounts. The major difference is that the national estimates include the labor earnings of residents of the United States temporarily working abroad, whereas the local area estimates include only the income of persons residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia. Specifically, the national personal income estimates include the income of Federal civilian and military personnel stationed abroad and of U.S. residents who are employed by U.S. firms and are on temporary foreign assignment. An "overseas" adjustment is made to the national estimates to exclude the labor earnings of these workers from the U.S. totals before the totals are extended to the State and local area levels.

Per capita personal income is computed by dividing the total personal income by population estimates provided by the Bureau of the Census. The population is measured as of July 1, except for the college student population, which is measured as of April 1.

The local area per capita personal income estimates should be used with caution for several reasons. In some instances, an unusually high or low per capita personal income is the temporary result of unusual conditions, such as a bumper crop or a hurricane. In other instances, the income levels of certain groups atypical of the resident population may cause a longer term high or low per capita personal income that is not indicative of the economic well-being of the area. For instance, a major construction project - such as a defense facility, power plant, or dam - may substantially raise the per capita personal income of an area for several years because these projects attract highly paid workers whose income is measured at the construction site. This high per capita income is not indicative of the economic well-being of most of the residents of the area (or, in many cases, of the resident construction workers themselves, because they frequently send a substantial portion of their wages to dependents living in other areas).

Conversely, the presence of a large institutional population - such as that of a college or prison - will tend to keep the per capita personal income of an area at a lower level because the residents of these institutions have little income attributable to them at these institutions. This lower per capita personal income is not indicative of the economic well-being of most of the residents of the area (or, in some cases, of the institutional populations, because some of these populations, such as college students, typically receive support from their families living in other areas).

The per capita personal income estimates can also be misleading in areas where population is changing rapidly. Population is measured at midyear, whereas income is measured as a flow over the year; therefore, a significant change in population during the year can cause a distortion in the per capita personal income estimates, particularly if the change occurs around midyear.

Data Availability

Personal income by type of payment and earnings by SIC industry division, as shown in table A, are available for metropolitan areas and counties for 1969-88. An expanded version of this table, which includes earnings by two-digit SIC industry, is also available. In addition, there are supplemental tables for employment by industry division, transfer payments by program, and major categories of farm income and expenses.

These tables are available on magnetic tape, computer printouts, and microcomputer diskettes. Magnetic tape files are priced at $100 per reel. For each table except the more detailed (two-digit SIC industry) income table, all years of data for all the counties or for all the metropolitan areas of the Nation are available on a single reel. The county file of the more detailed income table occupies two reels. The tables in forms other than magnetic tape are priced by page or diskette; the cost of an order will depend on the number of table series, areas, and years of data ordered. [Tabular Data Omitted]

(1.) For a discussion of the metropolitan area concepts and a list of the areas and their components, see U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1990 (Washington: GPO, 1989): 908-917.
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Publication:Survey of Current Business
Date:Apr 1, 1990
Previous Article:Regional perspectives; state personal income: methodological improvements.
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