Where’s the money?

CORRECTION. The original post had the incorrect percentage drop in Tennessee personal income. The error has been fixed.

If you found it harder to make ends meet last year, there’s a reason. State personal income in the U.S. fell an average of 1.7 percent in 2009, the Department of Commerce said today.

In Tennessee, the decline was 1.26 percent. In raw dollars, per capita income in Tennessee dropped to $34,089 in 2009 from $34,833 in 2008, according to a press release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Here’s a chart of the Knoxville MSA stats.


Although times were hard in the Volunteer state, times were harder in a few other states. Despite the drop in per capita income, Tennessee’s ranking among the states actually rose two spots to 36th.

In contrast, Michigan dropped one spot to 37th, Georgia fell two spots to 39th and Idaho dropped four spots to 48th.

Tennessee’s per capita personal income was helped by a 11.17 percent increase in transfer payments. These payments include such things as government retirement payments, disability insurance benefits, Medicare and Medicaid payments, veterans benefits, Federal education assistance and corporate gifts to nonprofit institutions.

If you really feel the need to get geeky with the numbers check out the BEA’s interactive charts and its interactive tables.

A drop in personal income shouldn’t be a surprise, given the recession, layoffs, factory closings and other wonderful news of the past year.

I keep hearing the economy is in recovery. Maybe so, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.