DAYTON — Ohio's per capita income rose at one of the fastest rates in the nation last year, another sign that the Rust Belt state's economy is bouncing back after the recession.
The measure that includes all earnings — wages, dividends, interest income, rent — rose 1.7 percent from 2011 to 2012, to $39,289. That's based on statistical analysis by The Dayton Daily News, which said Ohio's income increase of $670 per capita trailed only North Dakota ($3,680) and Minnesota ($745).
“It is good news that our per capita income is increasing at all, and it is even better news that it is increasing so fast,” said James Brock, professor of economics at Miami University. “Ohio for once is leading the country out of recession, rather than lagging it and being last to the recovery party.”
Experts say incomes in Ohio continue to benefit from the revival of the manufacturing industry, particularly automaking, and the emergence of the oil and gas sector.
“Manufacturing is a powerhouse right now,” Brock said. “It's robust; it's lost weight, it's vigorous.”
Economic experts say that for the future, prosperity depends on diversifying Ohio's industrial base.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich's office says that is a top economic priority.
“We are working hard to diversify even more with the belief that when bad times come, one torpedo can't sink you,” spokesman Rob Nichols said.
Ohio's per capita income still lags 29 other states, with Connecticut at the top at $58,908.
The economic indicator doesn't account for living costs, and can understate poverty in high-cost areas and overestimate in low-cost regions, said Ed Hill, dean of Cleveland State's college of urban affairs.
It also isn't distributed evenly, and can reflect disproportionate benefits to wealthier residents. But Hill said it remains one of the best economic measures and shows that Ohioans have more money available to spend.