Pitkin County residents: Do you make $83 grand? | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County residents: Do you make $83 grand?

A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows Pitkin County has the highest per-capita personal income in Colorado, but a Denver consultant says that the data aren't likely accurate reflections of its full-time population.

In 2013, Pitkin County's per-capita personal income was $83,425, up from $82,496 in 2012 and $77,254 in 2011, according to the report, which was issued Nov. 20. The state's per-capita personal income was $46,897 in 2013, and the U.S. average was $44,765.

The 1.1 percent increase from 2012 to 2013 ranked Pitkin County's income growth 49th in Colorado, which averaged a 1.3 percent boost, also the national average.

Still, the next-closest Colorado county in terms of per-capita income, Douglas, was nearly $8,000 lower than Pitkin at $75,747.

"What probably drives this is you undoubtedly have some wealthy residents who have decided that Pitkin County is their residence," said Ford Frick, managing director of BBC Research & Consulting in Denver. Frick's specialties include regional economics and rural and resort development issues. "These studies are always interesting to me because many second-home owners don't declare Pitkin County as their residence."

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, however, didn't use just wages and salaries to determine personal income. Other sources of income include money derived from investments, business and home ownership, and government payments such as Social Security and Medicare.

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The nearby counties of Garfield, home to Glenwood Springs, and Eagle, home to Vail, had per-capita personal incomes of $41,171 and $50,416, respectively, in 2013. Summit County, home to Breckenridge, Dillon and Frisco, was at $49,369.

"The data tries to say how much income is generated out of your area," Frick said. "It uses state employment data and census material, but resort areas just don't lend the methodologies that makes sense for 95 percent of the country."

He added, "Ninety percent of Pitkin County's workforce is not making $83,000. It doesn't take too many people making silly amounts of money to skew that average."

Also driving up the number is Pitkin County's high employment rate, Frick said.

"You have a very high labor-force participation rates, and because you have that, it drives up the income," Frick said.

Pitkin County's unemployment rate typically hovers in the 4 percent range during the high seasons, but it can get as high as nearly 10 percent — like in offseason month of May, when it was 9.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Then just what is the average income in Pitkin County?

A more reflective report, issued in 2013, was the Pitkin County Public Health Improvement Plan. That study noted that the county's median household income was $64,502, and the mean income was $134,267. It also said that second-home owners represent 55 percent of all housing in Pitkin County, estimating the county's full-time population to reach 19,009 residents in 2015.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Cash counties

Of the 20 counties in the U.S. with per capita personal income higher than $80,000 in 2013, Pitkin County ranked No. 16, according to an Aspen Times study of a report issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Here’s how Pitkin stacked up against the other counties.

Rank County INCOME

1. New York $121,632

2. Williams (North Dakota) $115,897

3. Sully (South Dakota) $106,547

4. Teton (Wyoming) $105,821

5. Marin (California) $97,124

6. Dunn (North Dakota) $96,913

7. Billings (North Dakota) $94,519

8. Mountrail (North Dakota) $90,614

9. McKenzie (North Dakota) $90,173

10. Nantucket (Massachusetts) $89,722

11. Midland (Texas) $87,897

12. Shackelford (Texas) $87,115

13. Haines Borough (Alaska) $85,326

14. San Francisco $84,356

15. Potter (South Dakota) $83,252

16. Pitkin $83,425

17. Arlington (Virginia) $82,736

18. Summit (Utah) $82,558

19. Antelope (Nebraska) $82,149

20. Westchester (New York) $80,363

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

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