Special Report

States Where Incomes Are Booming (or Not)

Thomas C. Frohlich

6. Idaho
> Personal income growth (2008-2014):
12.6%
> Per capita personal income 2014: $36,920 (6th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.8% (14th lowest)
> Pct. Change in labor force (2008-2014): 2.9% (15th highest)

Personal income in Idaho increased 12.6% from 2008 through 2014, the sixth-fastest growth rate in the country. By contrast, income grew 8.9% nationwide over that period. Mining activity, which contributed substantially to the state’s GDP and helped generate jobs, largely explains the growth. More than 5.8% of the state’s workforce was employed by the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining industries in 2013, up 0.7 percentage points from 2008, and higher than the 2% of workers employed in those industries across the country. The Idaho job market as a whole was also relatively healthy, as just 4.8% of the workforce was unemployed, lower than the national jobless rate of 6.2%.

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7. Tennessee
> Personal income growth (2008-2014):
12.3%
> Per capita personal income 2014: $41,268 (22nd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.7% (12th highest)
> Pct. Change in labor force (2008-2014): -1.4% (11th lowest)

Tennessee had a per capita personal income of $41,268 in 2014. While this was just below the national average figure of $42,412, personal income grew 12.3% from 2008, faster than in the vast majority of states. The state’s annual unemployment rate of 6.7% in 2014 was relatively unchanged from 2008, and remained higher than the national jobless rate of 6.2%.

8. Oklahoma
> Personal income growth (2008-2014):
12.2%
> Per capita personal income 2014: $44,179 (20th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.5% (12th lowest)
> Pct. Change in labor force (2008-2014): 2.2% (18th highest)

Nationwide, income grew 8.9% from 2008 through 2014. Personal income in Oklahoma increased 12.2% over that period, the eighth-fastest growth rate in the country. Oklahoma’s energy sector accounts for a large part of the state’s income growth. In 2008, 11.7% of the state GDP came from natural resources and mining, in 2013, that had grown to 13.8% of state GDP, the As in most states where personal income is growing fast, Oklahoma’s energy sector activity largely explains the increase. Energy extraction accounted for 13.8% of the state’s GDP in 2013, up 2.1 percentage points from 2008. The increase was the sixth largest in the country. The energy sector also added more than 5,000 jobs over that period, the sixth largest raw increase nationwide.

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9. South Dakota
> Personal income growth (2008-2014):
11.8%
> Per capita personal income 2014: $48,378 (5th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.4% (3rd lowest)
> Pct. Change in labor force (2008-2014): 0.4% (25th highest)

Personal income in South Dakota increased 11.8% from 2008 through 2014, the ninth-fastest growth rate in the country. By contrast, income grew 8.9% nationwide over that period. The state’s relatively large agricultural sector accounted for 8.4% of the state’s GDP, the largest percentage compared to other states, and up from the 2008. South Dakota agricultural workers made up 6.8% of the state’s workforce, the fourth highest proportion in the country, and up 27.2% from 2008.

10. Nebraska
> Personal income growth (2008-2014):
11.4%
> Per capita personal income 2014: $48,102 (6th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.3% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. Change in labor force (2008-2014): 3.3% (11th highest)

Personal income in Nebraska increased 11.4% from 2008 through 2014, the 10th-fastest growth rate in the country. By contrast, income grew 8.9% nationwide over that period. While a single sector often accounts for the bulk of a state’s economic growth, and handful of industries contributed substantial gains to Nebraska’s economy. The state’s agricultural industry in particular, which was already relatively large in 2008, added 1,863 jobs over five years, a 42.9% increase. Both figures were some of the largest in the country.