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Published: Friday, 8/8/2008

Toledo metro area lags in income growth

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Personal income grew in metro Toledo last year, but not as much as in other U.S. cities, a new federal report shows.

Wages, investment returns, and other income paid to area residents rose 4.4 percent in 2007, the Commerce Department said yesterday.

That was more than in 2006, when personal income rose 4.1 percent, but it didn't match the 6.2 percent growth recorded in the average U.S. city.

"The metro areas that were growing the slowest tended to be concentrated in the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana," said David Lenze, a Commerce Department spokesman.

In the Toledo region, Monroe ranked among the 10 U.S. cities with the slowest growth in per capita personal income, the report shows.

It had an increase of just 2 percent, to $33,167 from $32,521 in 2006.

"The story is the durable goods industry," the department spokesman said. Translation: jobs at auto plants and other factories producing heavy-duty products.

"In 2006, there were buyouts for many workers which boosted their wages that year," Mr. Lenze explained.

"But since they are no longer working, it makes the decline look even sharper than it otherwise would."

Per capita - or per-person - income in metro Toledo, which includes Lucas, Wood, Fulton, and Ottawa counties, grew by 4.6 percent to $33,704. That is $1,419 more than in 2006.

Among Ohio's six largest cities, the area continues to rank last behind Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Akron, and Dayton. In a national ranking of per capita income, Toledo slipped to 171st from 169th in 2006, the Commerce Department reported.

Per capita income is calculated by adding all types of income earned by everyone in a city and then dividing by the population.

Statisticians caution that the resulting number is more a reflection of a region's overall wealth than how much individuals and families make on average.

Besides wages, per capita income includes sources such as government benefits, bank interest, stock dividends, and rent collected by landlords.

Among other metro areas included in the 363-city report, per capita personal income grew 2.6 percent in Sandusky to $35,187 and 3.7 percent in Lima to $29,857.

Compared with all U.S. cities, they rank 131st and 277th, respectively.

Personal income growth slowed in 208 metro areas, increased in 144, and remained unchanged in 11, according to the report.

"The fastest-growing places tended to be in places like Odessa, Midland, and Houston in Texas where they have a large oil and gas sector," the Commerce Department spokesman said.

"High prices are encouraging exploration and drilling, and the wages paid are boosting the income of those areas."

Nationwide, per capita income ranged from $80,192 in Stamford, Ct., to $18,320 in McAllen, Texas.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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