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Five observations on 2018 PCI data for counties

A few thoughts on today’s release of 2018 income data for counties:

1) Income growth in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area continued at a mind-boggling pace. Among large counties with 500,000 or more in population five of the top ten ranked by real (inflation-adjusted) per capita income growth in 2018 are in California, led by Santa Clara and San Mateo at 4.5%. A reference point to the U.S. can help make the point in a different way. Real per capita income (PCI) in the U.S. was up about 1.9% in 2018. Nine large counties experienced real PCI growth that was more than double the U.S. rate–five were in Silicon Valley or the Bay Area.

1.a.) Season 6 is amazing so far.

2) Tulsa ranked #1 among large counties. It was the only one to reach 5% in real PCI growth in 2018. In fact, most of the state of Oklahoma appears to be doing well, at least according to PCI growth as a measure of economic well-being. The state’s two large counties ranked in the top twelve nationally (OKC was 12th at 3.4%) and real PCI grew in every one of the state’s larger counties with 50,000 or more residents, led by Washington at 8.3%.

3) The number of very high-income counties is growing, and the geographic concentration of those counties is shifting. In 2010 there were only five counties with PCI of $100,000 or more (in 2018 dollars). None were in California. Marin was the only CA county in the top ten; Santa Clara ranked 42nd. The number of counties with PCI of $100,000 or more grew from five in 2010 to nineteen in 2018. Three of the top ten were in California; Santa Clara went from 42nd to 15th. We now have one county with PCI of $250,000+ (Teton, WY), and New York may become the first large county to reach $200,000 when 2019 data is out.

4) I made this point over at the Capital of Texas Media Foundation research blog, where I write about Austin, but it’s worth repeating here. The pace of per capita income growth in some communities since the end of the last recession is astonishing. Twenty-two counties have seen real per capita income growth of at least 50% since 2010. Most of those counties have relatively few residents and are found in energy-driven local economies–10 of the 22 are in Texas and have fewer than 20,000 residents–but several large counties are on or are approaching that list as well, including Santa Clara (52%), San Mateo (48%), and SF (47%). Places like Denver (40%), New York (39%), and Seattle (38%) are not far behind.

5) It’s interesting how closely Los Angeles and Chicago are tracking. In 2018 PCI was about $62,000 in Los Angeles and Cook County, and it also grew at about the same rate that year (2.3%). In fact, it’s been very close since 2010, about 23% in Los Angeles and 22% in Cook. Both counties also experienced slight declines in population in 2018.