C-U area income rises slower than national average

Per-capita income in the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area hit a snag last year.

After several years of growing faster than the national average, Champaign-Urbana's per-capita income rose slower than the nation's in 2011.

Data released Monday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis listed per-capita income for Champaign-Urbana at $37,246 — up 3.29 percent from $36,058 in 2010.

That growth rate was slower than the U.S. average of 4.26 percent. In fact, the Champaign-Urbana area ranked 306th out of 366 metro areas in per-capita income growth.

For the preceding four years, Champaign-Urbana had outpaced most metro areas in per-capita income growth. In 2008, it had the 17th-fastest rate in the nation in 2008; in 2010, the 28th-fastest rate.

Although farm earnings were up sharply last year, earnings were down in several other categories in Champaign County, including health care and social assistance, the military, construction, real estate and printing.

Overall, the Champaign-Urbana metro area — which includes Champaign, Ford and Piatt counties — ranks in the middle of the pack in per-capita income.

Its figure of $37,246 was 169th-highest in the nation — far behind the nation's leader, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., at $78,504, and far ahead of the lowest area, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, at $21,620. The national average was $41,560.

The Champaign-Urbana area, with a high population of college students, continues to have lower per-capita income than many central Illinois cities. Peoria ranked 53rd in the nation; Springfield, 59th; Bloomington-Normal, 78th; and Decatur, 94th. Two smaller metro areas — Kankakee-Bradley and Danville — trailed at 278th and 292nd, respectively.

Until last year, Champaign-Urbana had been rising relative to other metro areas in terms of per-capita income. It moved from 241st in 2007 to 188th in 2008 to 180th in 2009 to 161st in 2010 before falling back to 169th this year.

Per-capita income is calculated by dividing a metro area's personal income by the area's population.

Total personal income for the Champaign-Urbana metro area was listed as $8.653 billion in 2011, and the population was estimated at 232,336.

Population for the area was estimated to have grown by a scant 0.07 percent in 2011. The population-growth rate ranked 283rd out of the nation's 366 metro areas.

The biggest increases in personal income in 2011 tended to come in metro areas in Texas and the Great Plains and some areas of the West Coast, Southeast and the upper Great Lakes region.

The biggest jump was 14.8 percent in Odessa, Texas.

Showing the lowest growth was Rochester, Minn., where personal income grew by only 1 percent, the result of a decline in health care earnings.

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EdRyan wrote on November 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

There is a lot more to that picture than a large student population.  Bloomington-Normal has a large student population as well.  The fact that the low wage service sector dominates the C-U economy is a much more important factor.  C-U is also an attractive place for educated professionals to live and thus the market is saturated driving down fees.  Housing is also expensive relative to incomes.  In C-U it takes about 4 times the median income to buy the average priced house.  In Bloomington-Normal it takes about 2 times the median income to buy the average house.

Looking at the timeline of the increase in median income strongly suggests that the real estate boom was a driving factor in the increase.  Information technology has been touted as the big thing for C-U for at least the last 30 years, but it still seems hard to keep 'em down on the farm once they've seen San Jose.

Sid Saltfork wrote on November 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

The Rich get richer; and the Poor get poorer.  It's the new America. 

Whoa...  I am late delivering sandwiches!!!