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Published: Wednesday, 8/10/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Region's income rose 2.4% last year, U.S. study says

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Metro Toledo got a collective raise last year, primarily from people going back to work in area factories, according to new federal estimates of personal income released Tuesday.

The area's personal income rose by 2.4 percent in 2010, according to new estimates by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal income grew in Lucas, Wood, Fulton, and Ottawa counties from an aggregated estimate of $22.3 billion in 2009 to $22.8 billion last year, with a third of the increase directly attributable to payroll gains in the durable-goods manufacturing sector.

Among those contributing to the increase were over 200 hourly workers -- some of whom, like LaDonna Jewel of Toledo, had been laid off for 18 months or more -- called back to General Motors Co.'s Toledo Powertrain Plant in mid-2010 to begin producing the first versions of a new front-wheel-drive six-speed transmission.

"I never thought I'd be off that long," the 26-year veteran auto worker said of her involuntary layoff between September, 2008, and February, 2010. "Going back to work has given me a peace of mind to be able to pay my bills and not have to worry. I'm thankful for that."

The BEA figures are estimates drawn from various government sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Internal Revenue Service. Preliminary numbers released Tuesday will be updated later this year as a clearer economic picture of 2010 becomes available, BEA officials said.

But while the four-county metropolitan area was able to recover from the 1.2 percent decrease in personal income it faced in 2009, gains in wages and salaries, interest, dividends, rents, and government payments like Social Security were the weakest of any Ohio major metro area and below the national average of 2.9 percent growth, the bureau said.

Within the area, the bureau said wages and salaries grew by a collective $218 million in 2010, while "transfer receipts" -- which are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, and other governmental payments -- grew by $319 million. Dividends, interest, and rental income grew by just $9 million across the metro area, the bureau said, accounting for the $546 million increase in personal income.

Among Ohio's largest metro areas, Columbus fared best with personal income rising 3.1 percent in 2010.

Cleveland and Akron each registered a 2.8 percent increase; Cincinnati, a 2.6 percent rise, and Dayton finishing just above metro Toledo with a 2.5 percent increase in 2010. All of Ohio's major metro areas experienced losses in personal income during 2009, the bureau said.

Toledo's 2.4 percent growth in personal income ranked 251st among the nation's 363 metro areas.

"This time around, the pattern [among the best performing metro areas] was more industry than geography," David Lenze, a bureau economist, said. "Durable-goods manufacturing showed a big chunk of the increase in metro Toledo, just as it did in other places like Elkhart and Goshen, Ind. But construction continued to decline in Toledo, as it did in most metro areas."

Both metropolitan Sandusky and Lima had stronger growth in personal income than Toledo in 2010, with increases of 3.8 and 3.1 percent, respectively. Monroe saw growth of 2.1 percent. Each of the three smaller metro areas experienced declines in personal income during 2009.

Kurt Rankin, a PNC Bank economist who studies Toledo, said income levels in the metro area "dropped significantly during the recession," with unemployment peaking at 13.3 percent in 2009 and recovering since then, especially in manufacturing.

"The revitalization of the auto industry has helped to stabilize Toledo's labor market," Mr. Rankin argued in his most recent assessment of metro Toledo's economy. "Outside of traditional durable goods manufacturing, the market area hosts a growing base of services industries. Job gains in these industries have followed quickly on the heels of earlier manufacturing gains, indicating that self-sustaining economic momentum is now in place for Toledo."

Among sectors of the economy across U.S. metropolitan areas, management of companies and enterprises experienced the largest percentage gain in personal income in 2010 at 7.2 percent, followed by educational services at 6.2 percent, while construction jobs experienced a second year of income declines, falling 4.5 percent in 2010.

The bureau said the private sector in the nation's 363 metro areas had a collective growth in personal income of 2.5 percentage points, higher than the 1.9 percent growth experienced by those in the government and military work force. In 2009, the private-sector work force within the nation's metro areas saw its personal income shrink by 5.1 percent, while public-sector workers experienced a collective 3.3 percent increase.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091



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