featured graphic for the Bureau of Economic Analysis during COVID-19

BEA News: Personal income by state, 1st Quarter 2021

State personal income increased 59.7 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2021 after decreasing 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (table 1). In the first quarter of 2021, the increase in transfer receipts was the leading contributor to personal income growth in all states and the District of Columbia (table 2). The percent change in personal income ranged from 89.3 percent in Mississippi to 31.1 percent in the District of Columbia.

Personal income percent change at annual rate from fourth quarter of 2020 to first quarter of 2021. Graphic courtesy of Bureau of Analysis.
Personal income percent change at annual rate from fourth quarter of 2020 to first quarter of 2021. Graphic courtesy of Bureau of Analysis.

Transfer receipts increased $2.3 trillion for the nation in the first quarter of 2021, accounting for almost all the growth in personal income (chart 1). The increase in transfer receipts reflected new government pandemic relief payments provided by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

Aggregate change in personal income level from 2020 quarter 4 to 2021 quarter 1. Graphic courtesy of Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Aggregate change in personal income level from 2020 quarter 4 to 2021 quarter 1. Graphic courtesy of Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on First-Quarter 2021 State Personal Income Estimates

The 2021 first-quarter estimates of state personal income continue to be impacted by the response to the spread of COVID-19. In the first quarter, government assistance payments, such as direct economic impact payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and Paycheck Protection Program loans, were distributed to households and businesses through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the state personal income estimates, because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

Transfer receipts. The increase in transfer receipts primarily reflected increases in state unemployment insurance compensation and in all other transfer receipts (chart 2). State unemployment insurance compensation was boosted by a temporary $300 increase in weekly benefits provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. The increase in all other transfer receipts reflected the $600 economic impact payments to individuals provided by the CRRSA Act and the $1,400 economic impact payments provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. Transfer receipts increased in every state and the District of Columbia, ranging from $251.9 billion in California to $3.8 billion in the District of Columbia (table 2).

Dollar change in personal current transfer receipts and selected components from 2020 quarter 4 to 2021 quarter 1. Graphic courtesy of Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Dollar change in personal current transfer receipts and selected components from 2020 quarter 4 to 2021 quarter 1. Graphic courtesy of Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Earnings. For the nation, earnings increased 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2021 after increasing 11.5 percent in the fourth quarter (table 2). The increase in earnings reflected the continued economic recovery following the partial economic shutdown that began in the first quarter of 2020 after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earnings increased in 20 of the 24 industries for which BEA prepares quarterly estimates (table 4). Finance and insurance; professional, scientific, and technical services; and durable manufacturing were the leading contributors to the overall growth in earnings. The percent change in earnings across all states ranged from 11.1 percent in Texas to –10.2 percent in South Dakota.

Earnings in Michigan and eight other states including Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas increased in part due to profit sharing payments by auto manufacturers to workers represented by the United Auto Workers union.

Decreases in earnings in South Dakota and five other states including Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming were primarily the result of decreases in farm earnings due to lower payments to farmers from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

Property income. Property income (dividends, interest, and rent) decreased 0.1 percent for the nation in the first quarter of 2021 after increasing 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter. The percent change in property income across all states ranged from 1.4 percent in South Dakota to –1.7 percent in Georgia.

Updates to Personal Income

Today, BEA also released revised quarterly estimates for the first quarter of 2020 through the fourth quarter of 2020. Updates were made to incorporate source data that are more complete and more detailed than previously available and to align the states with revised national estimates that were released on May 28, 2021.

Revised annual state personal income estimates for 1998 to 2020 will be released on September 23, 2021. In addition, revised estimates for the first quarter of 1998 through the first quarter of 2021 and preliminary estimates for the second quarter of 2021 will also be released. The November 2021 Survey of Current Business will contain an article that describes the results.

BEA state per capita personal income statistics are calculated using Census Bureau midyear population estimates. These annual midyear estimates are based on the 2010 census. BEA will incorporate Census Bureau midyear population estimates based on the 2020 census results when they become available.

This article was released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.