In the midst of the Great Recession in 2009, two huge American automakers went bankrupt, putting thousands of their employees and those of their suppliers out of work. Factories across the region shut down. Restaurants and bars closed. Unemployment rocketed skyward. Northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan were caught in a financial hurricane unlike any experienced in decades.
Still, there were people in many metro areas across the United States -- and Ohio -- that caught it far worse in their wallets, according to local-level figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Per-capita personal income in the four-county metro Toledo area fell just more than 1 percent in 2009, less than half the average 2.6 percent decline felt nationally that year, and the second-lowest decline of any metro area in Ohio, behind only Dayton. Personal income includes all funds coming into a household, including wages and salaries, employer-provided health insurance, dividends and interest income, and Social Security benefits.
Among Ohio counties, Lucas and Wood counties lost 1.1 percent of their per-capita personal income in 2009, Ottawa County 0.6 percent and Fulton County 0.4 percent, the report shows. In northwest Ohio, Defiance County had the worst loss at 1.9 percent. But Monroe County, Mich., saw its per-capita personal income drop 4.5 percent.
While personal income seemed to fall only slightly, earnings -- the amount of money coming into a home in wages and salaries -- declined far more drastically locally in 2009, a federal official said.
"One of the things going on in Lucas County is that it's losing population," explained David Lenze, an economist with the bureau. "The real pain [of the recession] is in the earnings component, and earnings by place of residence fell 5.3 percent in Lucas County in 2009. That's substantially higher than the per-capita personal income decline, because offsetting that is an increase of transfer receipts, funds such as unemployment benefits and Social Security payments."
Seneca, Henry, Wyandot, and Huron counties experienced increases in their per-capita personal incomes in 2009, albeit all were less than 1 percent, the report shows.
Metro Toledo's fall to an average total of $33,178 in annual income per resident ranked the region 144th out of 366 metro areas nationally in terms of the percentage of personal income lost during the heart of the recession. And it paled in comparison to the 4.5 percent decline experienced by residents in metropolitan Monroe, which had per-capita personal income drop by $1,500 to $31,961 in 2009, a percentage drop that ranked the area 344th out of the 366 metro areas nationally.
The 2009 per-capita income figure for metro Toledo ranked the region as the 238th wealthiest out of 366 and the poorest of Ohio's six major metro areas. Ohio's per-capita personal income was $35,408 in 2009, and Michigan's was $34,315, the bureau said.
Contact Larry P. Vellequette at email@example.com or 419-724-6091