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Rowan County per-capita income rises 3.6 percent

SALISBURY — Personal income rose in Rowan County in 2017, as it did in nearly 90 percent of counties nationwide.

According to a Bureau of Economic Analysis report released Thursday, income rose in 2,787 of 3,113 counties in 2017. Eight counties saw income levels stay the same, and 318 counties saw decreases.

The report defined personal income as “the income received by, or on behalf of, all persons (within a county) from all sources.” This includes earnings from wages, investments and other ventures.

Per-capita personal income is personal income divided by the population.

In 2017, changes ranged from gains of as much as 23.7 percent — seen in Crosby County, Texas — to decreases of 41.4 percent — seen in Slope County, North Dakota.

Average changes across the country were 4.5 percent increases in metropolitan areas and 3.2 percent increases in nonmetropolitan areas.

For Rowan County, per-capita income rose 3.6 percent year-over-year, estimated at $36,994 per resident in 2017 compared to 2016’s $35,692.

This is the county’s ninth consecutive yearly increase, for a total of 25 percent growth since 2010.

In 2009, per-capita income for the county was $29,088.

County commissioners Chairman Greg Edds said the increasing income is the result of a tight labor market.

“Companies all across the county are paying higher labor costs because workers are scarce,” Edds said.

He said the county is continuing to work to bring in jobs that pay higher-than-average wages.

“That provides opportunity for folks to move up the pay scale, but it also forces existing employers to increase their wages in order to preserve their current workforce,” he said.

The challenge, Edds said, is that higher-paying jobs require better trained workers.

“Our public schools, community colleges and private colleges have to be engaged with our economic development leadership to be sure they’re matching the skills training to the demands of those higher-paying employers we’re trying to attract,” he said. “The good news is, that’s happening now.”

Rowan’s per-capita personal income is ranked 51st among 100 North Carolina counties, up from last year’s rank of 52. Its 2017 average trails No. 50, Swain County, by $116.

Neighboring counties saw single-year increases ranging from 4.6 percent in Stanly to 3 percent in Iredell. Davidson County had an increase of 3.8 percent; Davie, 3.7 percent; and Cabarrus, 3.3 percent.

Rowan’s ranking continues to trail surrounding counties. Iredell was ranked eighth in the state; Davie, 13th; Cabarrus, 19th; Stanly, 44th; and Davidson, 45th.

Iredell County’s per-capita personal income for 2017 was $48,606.

Orange County ranks the highest in North Carolina with an average income of $62,202.

Statewide, counties with the best and worst changes were Hyde, gaining 7.1 percent, and Onslow, losing 2.2 percent.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that numbers in the report are estimates. Final income numbers for states and metropolitan areas are scheduled to be released in May.

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