Personal Income Growth Slows

Tuesday, March 24th 2009, 12:44 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's personal income grew just 0.1 percent from the third to the fourth quarter of 2008, but that was still enough to rank it sixth nationally as most of the country continued to see the effects of an economic downturn last year.

The estimates, released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, also showed that Oklahoma ranked 28th in per capita personal income levels at $36,899 -- slightly less than the $39,751 national average.

But Oklahoma's per-capita income still ranked higher than other states like Oregon, Michigan and Georgia.

Personal income, defined as the total income received by all persons from all sources, including salary, topped $135 billion in Oklahoma in the fourth quarter, which lasted through December.

Nationally, the change in state personal income ranged from a 0.9 percent increase in Alaska to a 1.8 percent decline in North Dakota.

But even with its 0.1 quarterly growth, the data indicate a slowdown in Oklahoma, which posted growth rates of 1.2 percent, 3.1 percent and 0.5 percent in the first three quarters of last year.

The energy industry continued to help buoy the state, even as the rise in oil prices peaked in the middle of 2008.

Some economists predicted the worst might be yet to come for Oklahoma, as the national recession finally catches up with the state.

"I think in Oklahoma and in Texas, 2009 stands to be a year of greater economic pressure than 2008," said Karr Ingham, a regional economist based in Amarillo, Texas. "I wish I could say that I thought we were on the tail end of this in terms of the Oklahoma economy, but I don't yet believe that's the case."

Nationally, personal income growth fell to 3.9 percent in 2008 from 6 percent in 2007, the slowest growth since 2003, the BEA reported Tuesday.

The U.S. posted a -0.2 percent decline from the third to the fourth quarter, and personal income also declined in 41 states. The national decline was the first since the first quarter of 1994.

Among its counterparts in the Southwest, Oklahoma finished ahead of Arizona in fourth-quarter growth, but behind New Mexico and Texas, the BEA reported.

"It certainly helps the areas that have the mining, but I can't say whether (Oklahoma) is in the bubble or not," said Kathy Albetski, a regional economist with the BEA, on how the energy industry has factored into Oklahoma's fourth-quarter growth.

The BEA's report on state personal income estimates