The Seattle metropolitan area (including Tacoma and Bellevue) is lagging the nation in personal income growth, according to new figures from the Department of Commerce. Overall, the national average of personal income for the 366 metropolitan areas dropped 2.8 percent; Seattle's dropped 3.2 percent.
Measuring the change from 2007 to 2008, the previous year, Seattle's personal income rose 1.5 percent, right at the national average of 1.6 percent.
Seattle's decline tracks with other West Coast cities, most of which exceed the national rate of decline for 2008-09. Portland's dip was 3 percent, San Francisco's was 3.6 percent, Los Angeles was 3.8 percent, and Denver's was 4.2 percent. The previous year, most of these cities' personal incomes grew at the national average, ranging from 1.1 to 1.6 percent; the exception was San Francisco, which was negative 0.1 percent.
The regions that grew are those with strong government spending, such as Washington's Tri Cities, which grew 1 percent this past year after 2.7 percent the previous year. Military spending, which has enjoyed considerable salary growth, drove other areas to out-perform the nation. Bremerton, for instance, grew 0.1 percent this past year. Amenities and retirement cities tended to suffer as investment portfolios declined: Boulder had a big drop of 5.1 percent this past year. (Bellingham, which drooped 2.6 percent, was just slightly under the national average.) Taken all together, 134 metro regions experienced income growth, while 223 had declines and 9 stayed even.