Rebounding farm income pushed a host of rural counties to the top of the list of those places showing large increases in personal income between 2007 and 2008. But rural America still lags the cities in per capita income, and the gap is increasing.
When you rank the nation’s 3,112 counties according to their growth in personal income between 2007 and 2008, the top of the chart has a countrified appearance.
The county with the highest percentage growth in total income was Faulk, a rural county in South Dakota, which reported a 54 percent growth. The next county on the list is rural (Clark County, Idaho) and so is the next (Cavalier County, North Dakota).
And on down the list. The 108 counties with the fastest growth in income between ’07 and ’08 are all rural. The first non-rural county is Benton County, Indiana, ranking 109.
Of the fastest growing 400 counties, 364 were rural.
As you can see in the map above, most of the counties with the fastest growing incomes (those in green) were in the Midwest and Great Plains, communities that benefited from extraordinary increases in farm revenue in ’08.
These counties were also bouncing back from poor farm years earlier in the decade, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The counties in red are those with total incomes that grew less than the national average of 2.9%. Those that are dark red showed declines in total income. Losing counties appear to be concentrated in oil and gas producing regions, particularly the Texas Panhandle.
To see the top 50 counties, click to the next page. To download an Excel spreadsheet with income information about all counties, click here.
Personal income includes the income an individual receives from all sources — wages, dividends, salaries, interest, social security benefits, bonuses and any other type of income.
Despite the spurt of rising income into farm counties, the gap between rural and urban incomes widened in the 2000s. (See chart below.)[img:RUEIncome00-08.jpg]
In 2000, average per capita income in urban counties was $10,281 greater than in rural counties. By 2008, the gap had grown to $11,864.
Per capita income in rural areas in 2008 averaged $31,088. In urban counties, the average per capita income was $42,952.
Per capita income in exurban counties were slightly higher than in rural counties. Average income in exurban counties in 2008 was $33,510.
The rural counties with the highest per capita incomes were either small — Loving County, Texas, with a total population of 40 had the highest individual income, $140, 275 — or recreation counties. Teton County, Wyoming — the county seat is Jackson Hole — had the second highest per capita income in 2008, $129,995.
The counties with the lowest incomes were concentrated in Eastern Kentucky, South Texas, and the Mississippi Delta and included counties with high concentrations of Native Americans.
The BEA has set up a handy map that shows totals and averages for every county — and compares those to state and national averages. Go here to find that information.
Here are the fifty rural counties with the greatest percentage increases in total personal income from 2007 to 2008.[img:incomeincrease.png]
Below is a chart showing the 50 rural counties with the greatest decrease in per capital personal income. Many of these counties appear to be in oil-producing regions of Texas and the West.[img:incomedecrease.png]