Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2012, 5:27 pm

Quad-Cities incomes rising faster than national average

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

Average incomes rose by 5.4 percent in the Quad Cities metro area in 2011 to $42,141, according to new government, a rate that was faster than the national average.

The statistics from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis cover Rock Island, Mercer and Henry counties in Illinois and Scott County in Iowa and found incomes had fully recovered from the economic downturn that struck in 2008.

Average personal incomes grew 5.2 percent across the nation, where personal incomes have now grown for three consecutive years, according to the newly released report on incomes.

The rate of inflation is around the 2 percent mark, said Bill Polley, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University. That would put the rate of income growth in the Quad Cities area at around 3.4 percent, adjusted for inflation, close to the norm before the economic downturn.

"Since the recession took hold at the end of 2007 and into 2008 we've been stuck in a cycle of low income growth and we are starting to break out of that now and so it's good to get back to the long-term average," Mr. Polley said.

Personal incomes grew faster last year and were significantly higher in Scott County than its Illinois neighbors.InRock Island County, although incomesrose in 2011 from 2010 they still have not climbed above the level reached in 2008.

Average income in Rock Island County dropped 5.9 percent between 2008 and 2009 as the downturn took hold and sank 4.3 percent across the entire Quad Cities area.

Last year, average personal income for the Quad Cities area was $42,141 compared to $40,331 in 2008. In Rock Island County the average income was $39,132 last year, slightly below the $39,327 recorded four years ago.

Average incomes hit$46,372 in Scott Count in 2011, or 18 percent higher than the average for Rock Island County.

All of the nation's 366 metro areas saw an increase in average incomes in 2011 for the first time since 2007, the BEA report found.The pace of income growth accelerate in to 5.2 percent in 2011, up from 3.8 percent in 2010.

Small towns and rural areas in Illinois and across the nation are generally seeing a better recovery from the recession than cities and suburbs, the statistics revealed.

In rural parts of Illinois, average incomes are up 5.6 percent since 2008 at $34,981 but in cities and suburbs were stagnant at $45,022 in 2011, down marginally from the $45,077 recorded in 2008.

Mr. Polley said the better performance in rural areas was connected to improved farm incomes in recent years fueled locally by rising corn prices.

Net income on Henry County farms has almost doubled from $61,696 in 2007 to $120,138 last year, the BEA report found.

Lake County, a Chicago suburb, had the highest average personal income in 2011 in Illinois at$55,656. The lowest average income was in Johnson County, in the far south of the state, at$25,920.

Nationwide, New York County, which covers Manhattan, and had an average income of $121,301, the highest in the nation. At the other end of the scale was Crowley County, Colo., which had an average personal income of $16,752 last year.







Average personal income 2011 2010 2009 2008
U.S. $41,560
U.S. metro areas $43,169
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island $42,141 $39,978 $38,591 $40,331
Rock Island County $39,132 $37,706 $37,000 $39,327 
Scott County  $46,372 $43,700 $41,579 $42,969
Mercer County $40,639 $37,692 $36,628 $37,621
Henry County $37,404 $35,138 $34,207 $35,699 
Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis