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Local

Personal income is growing – slowly – in Fresno County and the Valley

Fresno County employers paid out more than $22.1 billion to compensate their workers last year. How much of that did you take home?

New figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis revealed that per capita income – the average personal income for every man, woman and child – in Fresno County amounted to just over $40,000 in 2016. That was up 2.5 percent compared to 2015, and includes income from employment, unemployment insurance, dividends, government benefits, retirement payments or just about anything else that puts money in your pocket.

Among neighboring Valley counties, per capita income was reported at $32,287 in Kings County; $37,529 in Madera County; and $37,717 in Tulare County. Statewide, the estimated income per person was $56,374.

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Personal income is considered a key factor in how much money people have to help drive an economy, according to the federal report. “Personal income is the income that is available to persons for consumption expenditures, taxes, interest payments, transfer payments to governments and the rest of the world, or for saving,” the bureau reported. The per capita figure, calculated by dividing a county’s total personal income by the mid-year population, “is a useful metric for making comparisons of the level of personal income across counties.”

Across the U.S., per capita personal income ranged from a low of $16,166 in Wheeler County, Georgia to $199,635 in Teton County, Wyoming. Within California, Fresno County’s per capita income ranked 44th among the state’s 58 counties. Tulare was 48th, Madera came in at No. 51 and Kings was 56th. The top-ranked county was affluent Marin County, where per capita income was estimated at $115,952 in 2016.

When it comes to job income for working people in Fresno County, the federal figures show a wide disparity in compensation of employees from one industry sector to another, as well as varying rates of recovery since the 2007-09 recession pulled the wheels off of the local and national economy. The average annual compensation, including pay, benefits, and employer contributions to pensions, Social Security or unemployment insurance, across all industries was reported at $55,775 in 2016. That’s 18 percent higher than the average of just over $47,000 in 2007.

Government employees in Fresno County had some of the highest rates of pay, according to the federal data – an average of about $81,500 for each of the 72,000 federal, state and local government workers working for cities, the county, school districts, special districts, and state and federal agencies with offices in the county.

Some of the private-sector industries with the largest numbers of employees in Fresno County were also among those with the lowest rates of pay. The average compensation for workers in the accommodations and food service industries was $22,281. That’s a category that includes hotel housekeepers and other hotel and motel staffers as well as fast-food workers and restaurant staffers such as cooks, bartenders, servers and others whose income depends, in part, on tips rather than salary from their employers.

In agriculture, farm employees received an average compensation of $25,459 last year. And at retail stores, employees such as cashiers, sales clerks, shelf-stockers and others pulled in an average per worker of just over $30,000 for the year.

At the higher end of the scale in private-sector industries, information – a sector that includes publishing, broadcasting, telecommunications and data processing and hosting – ranked at the top, with an average compensation of $85,839 per employee. That was followed closely by managers of companies and other commercial enterprises with an average of $80,642 in compensation last year.

The construction industry, which took a heavy hit when the housing bubble burst in the late 2000s, saw its average employee compensation grow above its pre-recession levels, even though the number of employees remains well below where it once was. Last year, the average construction worker made about $50,348. That’s up by about $1,800 from 2015’s level, and more than $9,000 higher than it was in 2010, during the depths of the recession’s aftermath. But the industry still lags more than 6,000 workers below the number of employees there were in 2007.

At the low end of the salary spectrum were workers in arts, entertainment and recreation – fields where many jobs may be part-time or intermittent. They include workers in performing arts, spectator sports, museums and historic sites, and amusement, gaming and recreation businesses. The average compensation was reported at $16,338 per employee.

The calculations of average compensation include all positions without distinguishing full-time jobs from part-time. It is a raw mathematical average in which some employees in a given sector make far more while others may make far less.

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