Personal income in Ramsey County increased in 2019
Before the pandemic caused widespread job losses last year, personal income per capita in Ramsey County increased in 2019 compared with the year prior, rising to $50,047, a 0.7% uptick.
Personal income per capita is measured as the total personal income of an area divided by the population. In 2019, Ramsey County ranked 35th in North Dakota in terms of personal income per capita growth. In 2018, income grew by 7.5%.
Nationwide, personal income per capita increased by 3.5% to $56,490 in 2019 compared with 2018. That increase was smaller than the previous year's 4.8%. The majority of the 3,000-plus counties the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) tracks continued to see personal income per capita rise in 2019, the latest data available.
The fastest growth could be found in two rural Kansas counties: Sheridan and Greeley.
Sheridan County grew at a rate of 35% to $62,156 per capita in 2019. And in West Kansas, Greeley County grew at a rate of 30% to $98,916.
Xan Wedel, who leads the state data center at the Institute for Policy and Social Research at the University of Kansas, says government payments such as tariff subsidies under former President Trump's administration influenced the growth. In Greeley and Sheridan counties the ratio of farms to people is roughly one farm for every five and eight residents, respectively.
Farm income was a clear driver of growth in both counties, with cash receipts from the marketing of livestock and other products being the primary contributor to annual gains followed by government payments. Farm proprietor income, which includes government payments, increased by 125% statewide between 2018 and 2019. And government payments to Kansas farms nearly doubled to $1.37 billion during the same time period, according to BEA data. The Market Facilitation Program, provided about $1 billion in direct payments to Kansas farms negatively impacted by trade disruptions, an average of $17,247 per farming operation in 2019, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Nationwide, three counties saw income levels drop by more than 10%: Towner, N.D.; Cavalier, N.D.; and Buffalo, S.D.
Despite the annual declines, both North Dakota counties have income levels above the U.S. average and experienced large gains in personal income per capita, greater than 30%, the year prior. On the other hand, Buffalo County located in central South Dakota has experienced two consecutive years of declining income, down to $20,682 in 2019, and is one of the lowest-ranked counties in the country for personal income per capita. The Crow Creek Indian Reservation comprises a large share of the county.
The U.S county with the highest income per capita is Teton, Wyoming, at $229,825.
While it's too early to tell the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on personal income at the county level, 2020 estimates are due in December, the pandemic did result in businesses closing and laying off employees, and freelance work drying up as companies tightened their purse strings. Preliminary national data shows that personal income per capita is up 5.7% to $59,729 in 2020. A boost in transfer receipts such as supplemental unemployment benefits and federal stimulus checks provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020 was the leading contributor to personal income growth last year, the BEA said in a press release.
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