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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

April 23, 2009 at 10:10 AM

On the eve of recession, Seattle outpaced nation in income growth

Top of the News: The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis released personal income data for 2006-2007 today, giving us a sense of how metros and counties were doing as the recession began. The Puget Sound enjoyed some of the highest growth. For Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, that meant a 2007 per capita personal income of $49,401, 14th in the United States, and 128 percent of the national average. It was up 7.3 percent from 2006, vs. the national rate of 4.9 percent. Over 10 years, the average annual growth rate here was 5 percent, compared with 4.3 percent nationally.

Elsewhere: Bellingham, $33,487, up 6.2 percent; 87 percent of the national average. Bremerton-Silverdale, $41,521, up 6.8 percent; 108 percent of the national average. Olympia: $38,242, up 5 percent; 99 percent of the national average. Spokane: $32,019, up 4.8 percent; 83 percent of the national average. Yakima: $27,965, up 5.6 percent, 72 percent of the national average. Wenatchee-East Wenatchee: $30,872, up 4.7 percent; 80 percent of the national average. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton: $38,842, up 4.5 percent; 101 percent of the national average.

Nationally, the poorest performance in income is heavily concentrated in the Rust Belt, the South, and my hometown, low-wage, low-tax, low-regulation Phoenix. The portal to the data is here.

Midweek Bits: In case you missed it, this chart from the New York Times showing how this recession is hitting trade compared to previous downturns is arresting. Looks like a stalactite hanging from a cave.

–Be sure to check out the Atlantic magazine article, “The Quiet Coup,” by former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson. He compares the current financial crisis in the U.S. to those that usually face banana republics or emerging economies led by crony capitalists. The cure in the other cases: Remove the oligarchs that caused the mess. Dr. Summers, call your office.

–The guy who’s running what was once Washington Mutual has a thing or two to say about the disaster, as well. The never shy and retiring Jamie Dimon, chief of JPMorgan Chase, writes in his letter to shareholders that the mess was caused largely by greed and the expense of the Iraq war. Mr. Killinger, call your office.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Waiting for Godot?

Oh, we’re waiting for earnings

Tragicomedy

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