Personal income shrinks in Mississippi

JACKSON – (AP) In another bad sign for Mississippi’s economy, the state was one of only two where personal income shrank in the first three months of 2012.

Personal income fell 0.3 percent, the worst performance among the states, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis said Wednesday. Kansas was the only other state where personal income shrank.

The announcement comes less than a month after the same agency concluded that Mississippi’s overall economy dipped back into recession in 2011, shrinking more than all states but Wyoming.

Personal income is all of the income received by everyone from every source, including wages, business owner profits, interest, dividends, rent and government transfers. It’s not the same as a measure of the size of the overall economy, but can be a rough proxy.

Shrinking personal income in the first quarter could mean that Mississippi remains in recession, a possibility reinforced by a stagnant job market.

Nationwide, personal income grew 0.8 percent in the quarter, outstripping estimated inflation of 0.6 percent during the period. North Dakota performed strongest, with personal income rising 2.3 percent.

The three major categories of personal income – work-related earnings, investment income and government transfer payments – all fell in the state.

Of the 0.3 percent decline, 0.1 percent was caused by falling work income and 0.2 percent was caused by falling transfer receipts.

Mississippi was one of only four states where work-related earnings fell, one of only three states where transfer receipts fell, and the only state that saw a drop in investment income.

Sectors that shrank in the state’s work-related earnings included farming, real estate, forestry and fishing, utilities, federal civilian agencies and the military. Of those, farming was by far the biggest contributor to the decline.

The sectors that grew the most included retail trade, durable goods manufacturing and health care and social assistance.

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