Although it doesn’t reflect Utah’s current economic vigor, personal income growth in the third quarter slowed to the weakest pace since the final three months of last year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Wednesday.
Growth slowed to 0.66 percent in the July-September period from 1.17 percent in the second quarter. It was the weakest rate of growth since the fourth quarter of 2011, when personal incomes grew just 0.5 percent.
Nationally, against a backdrop of uncertainty fueled by the presidential campaign and congressional gridlock, incomes grew 0.5 percent in the third quarter, down from 0.7 percent three months earlier, the bureau said. Growth fell in 34 states and accelerated in only 11. The rest were unchanged.
Utah’s personal income growth has been sluggish since the first quarter of 2008, when the reading was 3.03 percent and the worst of the Great Recession was still in the future. Income growth faltered in the second quarter of that year, and in the third quarter it turned negative. Growth didn’t resume until the first quarter of 2010.
More than two years later, “we are still below our potential,” said Juliette Tennert, Gov. Gary Herbert’s chief economist. “But these numbers are consistent with the recovery path that we are on. The recovery is not as rapid as it’s been after past recessions. That’s because the recession we experienced was more severe.”
Tennert said personal income growth figures lag behind more current estimates of economic vitality, such as the monthly unemployment rate and job formation. Those measures suggest Utah’s recovery is accelerating, she said.
Personal income for all Utahns totaled $99 billion at the close of the third quarter, up from $98.3 billion three months earlier and $94.9 billion last year, according to the bureau. The year-over-year gain of 4.3 percent was seventh-best in the country.
Personal income consists mainly of wages, but also includes rents, dividends and transfer payments from the federal government, such as Social Security and pensions. Economists say personal income is a proxy for job growth and consumer spending, which drives much of the economy.
A look at how the growth in Utah personal income has changed since the recession began in December 2007
Fourth quarter 2007: up 2.13 percent
First quarter 2008: 3.03 percent
Second quarter: 1.5 percent
Third quarter: minus 0.13 percent
Fourth quarter: minus 1.88 percent
First quarter 2009: minus 2.26 percent
Second quarter: minus 0.85 percent
Third quarter: minus 1.04 percent
Fourth quarter: minus 0.12 percent
First quarter 2010: up 2.4 percent
Second quarter: 0.66 percent
Third quarter: 1.13 percent
Fourth quarter: 1.45 percent
First quarter 2011: 2.6 percent
Second quarter: 1.11 percent
Third quarter: 0.8 percent
Fourth quarter: 0.5 percent
First quarter 2012: 1.88 percent
Second quarter: 1.17 percent
Third quarter: 0.66 percent
Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis