WASHINGTON - Average personal income grew by 4.9% last year as incomes outpaced inflation in most states, according to revised data released yesterday by the Commerce Department.
The increase in real per capita income in 1992 was nearly double the 2.7% increase in 1991, according to the report.
"In 43 states, the increase in per capita income in 1992 exceeded the 3.7% increase in U.S. prices, as measured by the fixed-weighted price index for personal consumption expenditures," the department said.
The fixed-weighted price index is used as a benchmark of personal income because analysts consider it the best measure of the prices for goods people purchase with their disposable incomes, a department official said. The consumer price index, a broader measure of inflation, gained 2.9% last year.
"In nearly all states, the increase in per capita income was larger in 1992 than in 1991," the department said. "Per capita income for the nation was $20,114 in 1992, up from $19,169 in 199l."
Per capita income grew in all 50 states last year. Florida posted the slowest growth with a 2.6% gain in average personal income, the department said. The six other states that saw income gains at or below the inflation rate include: Delaware, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Maryland and Wyoming, according to government data.
"Most of the 10 states with the slowest growth in per capita income in 1992 had above-average population growth and below-average personal income growth," the department said.
North Dakota posted the strongest performance last year with average income rising 8.9%, the department said. The remainder of the top five are: Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi, according to the department's data.
In these states, incomes were boosted by above-average gains in manufacturing, construction, retail trade, and services, the department said.
States with the fastest growing personal income last year tended to be in the South and Midwest, department data showed. New Jersey posted the fastest growth in the Northeast with a 6.1% gain in per capita income, the department said.
There was less of a pattern among states with the slowest growing incomes. A few highly populated states, including Florida, California, and Massachusetts, saw slow growth, the department said. But less populated states, including Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming, also were near the bottom of the list, the report said.
Last year, Connecticut remained the state with the highest per capita income in the nation, followed by New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, the department said.
The top 10 list changed little last year from 1991, with the exception of California slipping to 11th place, the department said. Remarkably, this is the first time that California was not in the top 10 since such data was first compiled in 1929, the department added.