Personal income shows 2.4 percent gain in 2013

03/25/2014 5:50 PM

03/25/2014 5:50 PM

Personal income in Kansas was $43,916 per capita in 2013, up 2.4 percent from the year before, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

That puts Kansas per capita income nearly at the national average of $44,543, and 24th among states.

Personal income includes all sources of income, including wages and benefits, rents and interest, and government payments such as Medicare and Social Security.

But the income growth in 2013 wasn’t evenly distributed.

The single biggest chunk of the growth, about 20 percent, came from the good year enjoyed by the state’s farmers and agriculture-related workers.

High crop and cattle prices enabled farmers to see strong income growth during the first half of the year. Crop prices were pushed up by the blistering drought and growing international demand throughout much of the country in 2011 and, especially, in 2012.

But farm incomes dropped in the second half of 2013, as crop prices plunged as the drought lifted and grain stockpiles worldwide grew. Fourth quarter farm incomes were down 12 percent compared to the third quarter, although the weak finish merely tempered the good year for farm incomes.

Other big chunks of the state’s income came from segments that included the state’s accountants, lawyers and CEOs on one side, and temp workers and call center representatives on the other.

The personal income figures tell a story of how business has adjusted to a slack economy, said Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.

That means more work for temporary workers as companies remain hesitant to hire permanent employees. It also reflects relatively small wage increases for low-paying jobs.

At the same time, he said, many businesses are willing to pay more for high-level expertise, such as consultants, accountants and other services, where labor is at a premium.

“It’s just two things: a sluggish market and very conservative hiring,” he said. “That’s not a bad thing, it means companies are waiting it out.”

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