In a year when one might expect Americans’ personal income to decrease, 2020 saw the greatest increase in personal income growth in 20 years. The pandemic and related economic shutdown inspired a far-reaching increase in governmental assistance. Policymakers focused on increasing funds for unemployment benefits and government transfers, more widely known as stimulus checks, in hopes of offsetting the impacts from a growing unemployment rate. This resulted in a nationwide personal income increase of 4.9%.
Four Mountain States ended the year atop the nation in personal income growth. Arizona and Montana experienced an increase of 7.1% in personal income, Utah ranked third in the country with a 6.9% increase, followed by Idaho with a 6.8% annual increase. One Mountain State – Wyoming – was at the very bottom of the nation, but still saw an increase (1.1%).
Most of the personal income growth came from government transfers. However, Utah ranked #1 in the nation when personal income growth was calculated without government assistance – gaining 2.3%.
Average personal income in 2020 per working-age adult (18-64) was $88,885 in Utah and $97,813 nationally. Please note that these averages rise far above the typical or median working-age adult because of high-income earners.
Utah has led the U.S. on the income front through past times of economic hardship. After the Great Recession, recovery varied from state to state. However, from the start of the Great Recession in 2007 to the end of fourth quarter 2019, Utah had the largest long-term compound annual growth rate (3.4%).
- Barb Rosewicz, Mike Maciag and Joe Fleming, “States’ 2020 Personal Income Growth Was Highest in 20 Years,” The Pew Charitable Trusts, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2021/04/27/states-2020-personal-income-growth-was-highest-in-20-years.
- Utah Foundation calculations of U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis personal income data and U.S. Census Bureau population data.