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Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2011

Douglas County per capita income continues to lag behind Kansas average

April 21, 2011

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Here’s guessing that an extra $7,000 a year would come in handy. That’s about how much more the average Kansan has been making per year than the average Lawrence resident.

New federal numbers released this week show that Douglas County’s longtime trend of having per capita incomes well below the statewide average continued in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

And the numbers also suggested that the numbers can’t entirely be explained away by the fact that Lawrence is a university community with lots of students who earn little to no wages. When compared with the other 11 communities in the Big 12 Conference, Lawrence had the ninth lowest per capita income, according to the new figures.

Lawrence leaders are well aware of the trend.

“These numbers are exactly why we talk about economic development so much, and have made a concerted effort over the last few years,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell. “I really do feel like we have some key infrastructure in place to take advantage of some growth in the future.”

Here’s a look at some of the other figures from the report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis:

• Douglas County’s per capita income for 2009 was $32,070, down 0.2 percent from 2008. Statewide, per capita income in 2009 was $39,173. It was down 2.1 percent from 2008 levels.

• From 2004 to 2009, Douglas County’s per capita income has grown 18.5 percent. During the same time period, per capita income statewide has grown 22.7 percent.

• Douglas County has fared better than Johnson County both in the last year and during the last five years. Well, at least by percentages. Johnson County’s per capita income in 2009 fell by 4.7 percent. From 2004 to 2009, per capita income grew by 13.8 percent in Johnson County — or about 5 percent less than Douglas County. Many Johnson County residents likely won’t offer to trade paychecks. Johnson County continues to be the only urban county in the state with per capita income greater than $50,000. Even with the downturn, per capita incomes in Johnson County checked in at $53,353.

But the numbers that may catch the attention of Lawrence residents more than any are the ones that show what has happened west of here in Manhattan. In 2004, Manhattan and Lawrence both had roughly the same per capita income of about $27,000 per year. By 2009, Lawrence’s had grown to about $32,000. Manhattan’s had soared to $40,358.

Tom Kern, president of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, said that shows how large the impact the troop buildup at neighboring Fort Riley has been for Manhattan. But Kern also said it is the type of growth Lawrence residents shouldn’t expect.

“There’s no quick fix here,” Kern said. “We’re probably not going to recruit that 1,000 employee company. It will be 20, 50, 100 jobs at a time.”

But he believes the community is on the right track. He pointed to increased employment at pharmaceutical start-up firms such as Deciphera, Crititech, and about 60 new high-tech jobs that are now housed in the bioscience and technology incubator that is on Kansas University’s West Campus.

“But this isn’t a three-year or five-year deal,” Kern said. “We need to have elected officials and community leaders who have the persistence to go the long haul, and I believe we have that. We also have to have the population that has the patience.”

Google Map

Top 10 Kansas Counties by per capita personal income


View Top 10 Kansas Counties Per Capita Personal Income in a larger map

Red pins mark the top 10 counties when it comes to per capita personal income in Kansas. Blue pins mark Douglas and surrounding counties.

Comments

The_Original_Bob 3 years, 8 months ago

You see all the litte red balloons in Western Kansas? I'm going to assume those numbers are skewed by the millionaire oil and ranchers. While they are not numerous, it only takes a few of them to offset a couple hundred waitresses and teachers. Don't think those counties as wealthy.

dinglesmith 3 years, 8 months ago

Not necessarily. Farm income has been on the rise as the price of grain has increased. Additionally, farm land values are tied directly to the price of crops raised on that land. As China's middle class continues to grow, the cost of grain and the value of land will continue to increase. Now throw in the fact that we need fewer farmers to produce the same crops and you really see some gain. Personally, I'm happy to see farmers get ahead. It's not an easy way to make a living.

deec 3 years, 8 months ago

Those handouts from the Federal government, ag subsidies, don't hurt either.

deec 3 years, 8 months ago

Kiowa county $112 million in subsidies 1995-2009. Stanton county $226 million in subsidies 1995-2009. Greeley county $194 million in subsidies 1995-2009. Rawlins county $174 million in subsidies 1995-2009. Wallace county $158 million in subsidies 1995-2009. Gove county $166 million in subsidies 1995-2009. http://farm.ewg.org/region.php?fips=20063

Chris Ogle 3 years, 8 months ago

said Mayor Aron Cromwell. “I really do feel like we have some key infrastructure in place to take advantage of some growth in the future.”

Um >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> results ??

Sigmund 3 years, 8 months ago

“These numbers are exactly why we talk about economic development so much, and have made a concerted effort over the last few years,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell. “I really do feel like we have some key infrastructure in place to take advantage of some growth in the future.”

Yeah, it is hard to understand why building a new bus terminal on land developed by a Kommission crony for a bus system that loses several million dollars a year, or building a library parking garage, or cleaning up a toxic waste dump, or keeping a dilapidated property from being razed and replaced with new up-to-code building, or the taxpayer subsidized fire sprinklers for rich downtown landlords and their Kommissioner cronies, doesn't have businesses falling all over themselves to come here.

It is also so strange that we have to essentially bribe companies with tax breaks to come here when we have one of the highest sales tax rates in the State but our population has consistently one of the lowest incomes in the State. Can't imagine why a population with $7,000 less than the average Kansans' income would avoid buying stuff in a town with a sales tax that is among the highest.

This is all such a mystery, but I am quite sure that the Kommission and the LJWorld will soon be telling us that higher taxes are the answer.

Thats_messed_up 3 years, 8 months ago

Manhattan will really blow Lawrence out of the water when the NBAF opens! Ha Ha Go Cats!

Scott Morgan 3 years, 8 months ago

Private business drives a community.

Take a peek at what Ottawa is doing. The new district warehouses attracted other feeder businesses. This attracted new residents, who in turn migrated into small businesses as well.

I hear a few Lawrencians bleating how Western Kansas can't keep young people home due to the lack of opportunity.

How ironic, WKan actually is doing something about the problem, and Lawrence is known as no opportunity-ville to our young.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

Economic displacement does not in fact grow an economy. Neither will the continued focus on new housing in which the market will be dead for a few years. There are millions upon millions upon millions of homes on the market. Thousands in the KCMO metro = buyers market.

There has been too much focus on wrecking downtown Lawrence by west side developers and the Chamber of Commerce over the years.

*Economic Growth Problems in Lawrence = voting taxpayers are ignored in Lawrence,Kansas which says city government believes the educated voters in Lawrence are too stupid. The economic displacement in Lawrence,Kansas is a reflection of city government NOT the voters.

Why do you think Lawrence growth is lagging? http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/sep/why_do_you_think_lawrence_growth_lagging/

Inner Urban project never Materialized = flooded retail market = this project is dead http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2006/jan/bauer_farm/

What do you think of rise in the property tax rate in Lawrence? http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2006/aug/rise_property_tax_rate_lawrence/

What do you think of the Oread Inn proposal? http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/nov/what_do_you_think_oread_inn_proposal/

NO overwhelming support for tax abatements! http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/may/should_city_hall_give_tax_abatements_businesses/

Should the county require developers to pay for new roads? http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/apr/developers_new_roads/

Annexing areas too quickly http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2003/dec/annex/

Tax abatement policy http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2003/oct/tax_abatement

Warehouse Projects: http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/jul/should_farmland_near_intersection_highway_2440_and/

900 acre business project is a bad idea http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/jun/what_do_you_think_proposed_900acre_business_park_n/

Voting taxpayers are ignored in Lawrence,Kansas which says city government believes the educated voters in Lawrence are too stupid. The economic displacement in Lawrence,Kansas is a reflection of city government NOT the voters.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 8 months ago

This seems to go against the common claim that government employees are paid higher salaries than private sector employees.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 8 months ago

Farm subsidies. Welfare for farmers and ranchers. Sucking from the federal teat.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 8 months ago

Do you get paid every time you post after Merrill commenting on his cut-and-pasting?

Both are annoying, and your "joke" is spent.

We all know that Merrill posts a lot of links. You pointing it out for the umpteenth time is just as annoying.

Get some new material.

average 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm surprised more companies don't look to leverage the wage disparity.

Take H1B visas. Part of the process is that they have to apply 'prevailing wage standards'. (flcdatacenter.com).

You could legally hire an H1B-visa programmer in Douglas County for $16.30 an hour. You'd have to pay at least $21.15 in Topeka, $24.32 in Wyandotte or Johnson counties. Heck, you'd have to pay at least $18.69 in bum-end-nowhere Kansas.

average 3 years, 8 months ago

Two progressive-majority years out of 50 years of Chambercronies. Yeah, that's the problem.

DeMontfort 3 years, 8 months ago

Oh, consumer always has the same old whine, but never provides any examples. I can't believe his hot air hasn't warmed things up around here today.

JustNoticed 3 years, 8 months ago

So idiotic. You have no idea what you're talking about.

james bush 3 years, 8 months ago

Douglas County will have to unionize and then strike for higher wages.

james bush 3 years, 8 months ago

OR, arrange for KU to hire more $150,000-salaried lecturers.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm amazed that merrill didn't dredge up some figures from the 19th Century to prove whatever point he'd trying to make.

MyName 3 years, 8 months ago

Probably waiting for Google to finish digitizing them all...

notanota 3 years, 8 months ago

How much of this is disproportionate representation by students? I'm not saying that Lawrence doesn't have some crappy wages. I commute, and I'm regularly frustrated by the lack of good-paying tech jobs close to home, but every time the city commission talks about "creating jobs," it seems like they're talking about building another big box shopping experience, not about tech startups or other high paying jobs.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 8 months ago

There are no good blue collar jobs in Lawrence up for the gettun Notanota, Face it, no magic, nothing, miss, not winning, either your government workin or sloppin tables part time to make up your real job telling some overweight customer her shoes look nice.

Used to be you could build a Ford, knock down 20 buckos an hour, 6 weeks vacation, and some serious profit sharing. Try finding those jobs around Lawrence. They are to be had, in KCKS, and Claycomo MO.

For all those younguns, there are wonderful blue collar neighborhoods all over this nation. Just not here.

hipper_than_hip 3 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence is the land of low wages. Who can afford to work in Lawrence when you can drive to JoCo and make 30% more?

Shane Garrett 3 years, 8 months ago

If it were not for the college, perhaps Lawrence would be known as Tonganoxie south.

DeMontfort 3 years, 8 months ago

Per wikipedia:

Per capita income or income per person is the numerical quotient of income divided by population, in monetary terms. It is a measure of all sources of income in an economic aggregate, such as a country or city.

IE: Per capita wages include wages for those who LIVE in Douglas County but earn their income OUTSIDE of Douglas County, not just people who live AND work in Douglas County. It would be interesting to know how much of our per capita income is generated outside the county. (And how much in local wages are we losing to those who commute into Douglas County to work?)

So we can't assume that this $32K is the average wage for people who live AND work in Douglas County. I would bet that wage is even lower. Can you find that out, Chad? You know how you love to mess around with data.

Chad Lawhorn 3 years, 8 months ago

This figure measures the total amount of income for all Douglas County residents (wages, rental income, stock dividends etc.) and then divides it by the population of the county. If someone lives in Douglas County and works in Johnson County, that income will be measured in these numbers. But if somebody lives in Johnson County and works in Lawrence, that income won't be counted in these numbers. Hope that helps. Chad Lawhorn Journal-World

tomatogrower 3 years, 8 months ago

Is this figured on year round residents? If it includes students, then the figure is skewed. Most students just work part time jobs, or poorly paid University grunt jobs.

notanota 3 years, 8 months ago

Plenty of students are year round residents, too, but yes. That's what I figured was skewing the results.

Chad Lawhorn 3 years, 8 months ago

For some reason, probably because I forgot to post it, the list of what the per capita incomes of other Big 12 communities wasn't included with this story. But I have the numbers, so here they are: 1. Boulder, Colo.: $48,056 2. Austin, Texas: $40,544 3. Manhattan: $40,358 4. Lincoln, Neb.: $37,300 5. Columbia, Mo.: $36,649 6. Ames, Iowa: $35,616 7. Norman, Okla.: $35,381 8. Lubbock, Texas: $34.079 9. Waco, Texas: $32,265 10. Lawrence: $32,070 11. College Station, Texas: $29,151 12. Stillwater, Okla.: $29,030

Sigmund 3 years, 8 months ago

tomatogrower (anonymous) says… "Is this figured on year round residents? If it includes students, then the figure is skewed. Most students just work part time jobs, or poorly paid University grunt jobs."

"And the numbers also suggested that the numbers can’t entirely be explained away by the fact that Lawrence is a university community with lots of students who earn little to no wages. When compared with the other 11 communities in the Big 12 Conference, Lawrence had the ninth lowest per capita income, according to the new figures."

melott 3 years, 8 months ago

I think it is also skewed by the fact that Lawrence is a very desirable place to live. Many people are willing to take substandard wages in order to live here. Employers know that. I came here (admittedly long ago) on a much lower salary than offered elsewhere, and took it due to much better place to live (as well as lower housing costs).

Sigmund 3 years, 8 months ago

melott (anonymous) says… "melott (anonymous) says… "I think it is also skewed by the fact that Lawrence is a very desirable place to live."

Apparently low real estate and sales taxes and high wages are not on your short list as "desirable" and that certainly is your choice. But to claim Lawrence has lower housing costs? Maybe compared to California and New York, but Lawrence's housing is among the highest in the state exceeding even Johnson County.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 8 months ago

Remember this young folks there was once a time when people could choose. Do they wish to work for somebody else, give them the time, owners keep the headaches. Still making enough money to live good. Blue Collar.

You work at a GM plant, your main worry is if you go to work the next day.

Then, there are those who risk. Take second mortgages to pay for business expansion, work ungodly hours, and sometimes, not often, sometimes win. Perhaps a love partner takes on other jobs to make ends meet.

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