In 2015, Oregon had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $43,783. The PCPI ranked 29th in the United States and was 91 percent of the national average, $48,112, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. In Oregon, the 2015 PCPI increased by 5.0 percent from 2014, faster than the nationwide PCPI growth rate of 3.7 percent. In 2005, Oregon’s PCPI was $32,421 and ranked 32nd in the United States.
Personal income is the sum of three main components: net earnings (wages, salaries, employer contributions); personal current transfer receipts (retirement, Medicare, unemployment insurance); and dividends, interest, and rent. PCPI is calculated by dividing the area's personal income by its total population.
Per capita personal income varies between states and counties, and by metro and non-metro areas. A look at county numbers shows high variability in PCPI. In general, PCPI is higher in the Portland area and along the Columbia Gorge. Sherman County, a non-metro, actually had the highest PCPI in 2015 at $57,526.
In general, counties with higher PCPI have a higher percentage of PCPI attributable to net earnings. Per capita net earnings made up 69.4 percent of PCPI in Morrow County and 68.5 percent in Washington County. In Baker County, per capita net earnings made up 43.1 percent of PCPI, and in Curry County just 41.6 percent.
Areas with a higher concentration of older residents can show lower PCPI. In Oregon, Malheur County ($30,255) and Jefferson County ($32,178) had the lowest PCPI. The reason is that as people leave the labor force, they have likely passed their peak earning years, and therefore have less contribution to the net earnings component of personal income. Remember PCPI represents income, rather than wealth. Older residents may have substantial wealth, but not have as much relative income, unless it was income-generating investments that would show up in the “dividends, interest, and rent” portion of PCPI.