A significant surge in business profits, especially in rural Idaho, pushed 2011 total personal income higher in 42 of the state’s 44 counties. In resource-dependent Lewis and Idaho counties, business-profit declines were offset by higher-than-average wage increases to boost total personal income there as well.
In Blaine County, total income was estimated at $1,260,599,000, up 5.9 percent from 2010, with wages of $470,263,000. Business profits were estimated at $139,913,000 in 2011, with the average wage at $36,988. Statewide, the average wage was $36,452.
It was only the sixth time in the past 40 years that every county recorded an increase in personal income. The last was in 2007, the peak of the last expansion.
Estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis showed total personal income increases ranging from a low of 1.1 percent in Gem County, where total wages fell 3.4 percent but business profits jumped 11.1 percent, to a high of 22.3 percent in Clark County, where total wages also fell 3.4 percent while business profits jumped 78.9 percent.
Personal income in the 33 rural counties combined was up 6 percent from 2010, a half point higher than the national average increase for rural areas. At the same time, the 11 urban counties posted a 4.7 percent increase, a half point lower than metropolitan areas averaged nationally. Wage increases were essentially the same—2.4 percent in the five metro areas and 2.3 percent in the rural counties. But while business profits were up 7.2 percent in urban Idaho, they soared 22.2 percent in rural areas.
Statewide, personal income was up 5.1 percent in 2011, a tenth of a percentage point below the national increase.
The average annual wage also grew slightly faster in rural Idaho in 2011, up 2 percent compared to 1.8 percent in the urban areas. The largest increase was 10 percent in Camas County. Six rural counties saw the average wage decline, with the largest loss in Owyhee County at 1.4 percent.
A change in total wages can be the result of a change in the number of jobs while a change in the average wage is a change in compensation per job.