Erie Vital Signs

Income: Per Capita Income

Recent Performance

This trend was improving, but has recently reversed.

As of 2013, Erie’s per capita income was $37,729. This represented an increase of about 1 percent compared to 2012, and an increase of about 13.6 percent compared to the recession low point in 2009. However, in real terms (after correcting for inflation), though increasing by 4.6 percent compared to 2009, Erie’s per capita income actually decreased slightly by 0.5 percent between 2012 and 2013,

In addition, as of 2013, Erie’s per capita income is 15.7 percent lower than that in the United States as a whole ($44,765), 18.3 percent lower than that in Pennsylvania ($46,202), and 6.3 percent lower than the average for the thirteen Erie Vital Signs peer areas ($40,264).

Real per capita income declined across many parts of the country between 2012 and 2013, but the 0.5 percent decline in Erie was greater than the declines for the U.S. as a whole (0.18 percent), Pennsylvania (0.09 percent) and the average of the thirteen peer areas (0.35 percent).

The Basics

Per capita income is calculated as the total personal income of the residents of an area divided by the population of the area. It measures how much income, on average, is available to each of the residents in the area. These statistics should be interpreted with caution, however, because per capita income can be skewed by extreme levels at either end of the income spectrum, potentially giving a less accurate picture of “average” income in a region.

Why is this important?

The level of income is one of the most important indicators of the economic health and performance of a region. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), “per capita personal income is often used as an indicator of consumers' purchasing power and of the economic well-being of the residents of an area.”

The Details

From the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: Per capita income is the average money income received in the past 12 months by every man, woman, and child in a geographic area. It is derived by dividing the total income of all people 15 years old and over in a geographic area by the total population in that area. Note -- income is not collected for people under 15 years old even though those people are included in the denominator of per capita income.

Money income includes amounts reported separately for wage or salary income; net self-employment income; interest, dividends, or net rental or royalty income or income from estates and trusts; Social Security or Railroad Retirement income; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); public assistance or welfare payments; retirement, survivor, or disability pensions; and all other income.

Receipts from the following sources are not included as income: capital gains, money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property); the value of income “in kind” from food stamps, public housing subsidies, medical care, employer contributions for individuals, etc.; withdrawal of bank deposits; money borrowed; tax refunds; exchange of money between relatives living in the same household; gifts and lump-sum inheritances, insurance payments, and other types of lump-sum receipts.

The Nitty-Gritty Details


This EVS indicator has no subcategories. However, the BEA does break down Personal Income into three major subcategories: Net earnings; Dividends, interest, and rent; and Personal current transfer receipts.

Peer Areas

These variables include data on all 13 of the standard peer areas, along with U.S. and PA data.




Other Related Data

Additional Studies and Research

Latest Erie Data from the Economic Research Institute of Erie, at the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend

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