Oklahomans’ personal income growth was among the nation’s best last year, but remains less than the national average, according to federal figures issued Wednesday.
Powered by a burgeoning energy sector, Oklahoma’s personal income ranked among the top four states, on both an aggregate and per capita basis, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported.
The state’s per capita personal income grew 5.3 percent to $37,277 in 2011 from $35,389 the previous year, the bureau reported. That was the third-highest percentage growth of any state, and topped the national growth rate of 4.3 percent.
Total personal income in Oklahoma grew to $141 billion in 2011, up 6.2 percent from $133 billion in 2010. That was the fourth-highest percentage change among the states. Nationally, personal income grew 5.1 percent last year.
Numbers show strength
Chad Wilkerson, Federal Reserve economist in Oklahoma City, said the numbers reflect the strength of the state’s economy, but also the broadening economic recovery.
“Oklahoma is continuing to grow faster than the nation,” Wilkerson said. “Overall the economy appears to be growing well now. That wasn’t the case in 2011 and 2010 when we were clearly doing much better.”
In the fourth quarter, Oklahoma’s personal income growth of 1.2 percent was the third-best among the 50 states, the bureau reported.
Despite the recent gains, the state’s ranking of per capita personal income remained 34th among the states, at 89 percent of the national average of $41,663.
“That shows even though we had top-five growth, most states did pretty well,” Wilkerson said. However, a broader recovery is good news for Oklahomans, as economic policy is set more on national than regional conditions, he said.
Oklahoma was one of five states where earnings remain below peaks reached before the economic collapse of 2008, the bureau said. In the remaining 45 states, earnings reached new highs.
The mining sector, which includes energy, provided nearly half of the state’s income growth, even though it is not the largest employment sector, Wilkerson said. Mining earnings grew 9 percent nationally, faster than every other industry, and accounted for the bulk of the growth in the six fastest-growing states: Oklahoma, North Dakota, Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, and West Virginia.
Energy is cited
Wilkerson said the robust earnings growth in energy states was no surprise.
“I expected all the energy states to be first,” he said.
Manufacturing and health care also generated strong growth in Oklahoma, the bureau reported.
State personal income growth ranged from 3.4 percent in Maine to 8.1 percent in North Dakota. Inflation, as measured by the national price index for personal consumption expenditures, increased to 2.5 percent in 2011 from 1.8 percent in 2010.
Personal income is defined as the income received by all person from all sources, and is measured before deductions for personal income or other personal taxes.