Times Staff Writer
Challenging its reputation as a low-wage state, Florida registered strong gains in personal income growth last year, ranking third among all states, according to data out Tuesday from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Florida’s state personal income grew 4.9 percent in 2016 over the prior year, a growth rate exceeded by only Nevada (5.9 percent) and Utah (5.6 percent.)
State personal income is defined as the sum of net earnings by place of residence, property income, and personal current transfer receipts. Nationally, state personal income grew on average 3.6 percent in 2016, after increasing 4.5 percent in 2015.
Put in more personal terms, Florida’s per capita income last year was $45,819, ranking 27th among states and representing 92 percent of the national per capita average of $49,571. That differential has remained fairly consistent for many years — a sign that while income may be growing, it has largely failed to close the gap with the nation as a whole.
Based only on growth in earnings — essentially the pay received in the workplace — Florida showed particular strength. Florida total earnings rose 6.2 percent in 2016 compared to the prior year, trailing only three western states: Nevada (7.2 percent), Utah (6.4 percent) and Washington (6.3 percent).
By sector, earnings in Florida’s construction industry soared the most last year over 2015, up 13.5 percent as builders faced rising demand for work and an increasingly tight labor supply.