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Thursday, March 3, 2011 06:11 am

Springfield weathers economic storm better than other cities

Springfield took an economic hit during the recent economic recession, but the city fared better than much of the country, according to new data from the federal government.

Data released Feb. 24 by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows personal income in Springfield grew throughout the recession, even during times when that figure dropped in many other cities. The data also show Springfield’s gross domestic product grew steadily between 2006 and 2009, while other cities were experiencing declines.

Despite the poor economy, residents of Springfield and the surrounding communities earned a collective total of $8.35 billion in 2009, an increase of 1.6 percent from $8.21 billion in 2008. From 2007 to 2008, total personal income in Springfield rose 4.6 percent, with 2007 income at $7.85 billion.

In comparison with Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, Peoria and Decatur, Springfield’s personal income total was second only to Peoria, which has a higher population in its metropolitan area. However, that city’s rate of income growth for 2008 was lower than Springfield’s, with Peoria even showing a two-percent decline in income for 2009. Springfield’s 4.6 percent gain outpaced the national 2.1 percent growth in income for 2008, and even when the personal income total dropped nationwide in 2009 by 1.8 percent, Springfield saw a 1.6 percent increase.

In terms of income per individual, Springfield saw a steady increase between 2007 and 2009. On average, Springfield residents made $38,063 in 2007, a figure that rose 4.2 percent to $39,646 per person in 2008. That number rose again in 2009 to $40,109, placing Springfield 64th among all metropolitan areas nationwide that year. Springfield led other central Illinois cities of similar size in per capita income for 2009, with Peoria coming in second at $39,568.

Springfield also had the highest growth rate for per capita income at 1.2 percent, while Champaign-Urbana was the only other central Illinois city of similar size to see a positive change in per capita income at 0.4 percent. Nationwide, per capita income grew slightly faster in 2008 at 1.6 percent, but it decreased by 2.8 percent in 2009.

Springfield’s business sector continued to be productive as well, though the recession seems to have slowed growth in production. The gross domestic product of Springfield – the total value of all goods and services produced here – was more than $8.3 billion in 2006, the BEA data shows. That number grew to almost $8.7 billion in 2007, to almost $9 billion in 2008, and then again to nearly $9.3 billion in 2009. In total Springfield’s GDP grew by $970 million from 2006 to 2009, though the rate of growth declined as the recession wore on, starting at $374 million in 2007 and ending with $291 million in 2009.

Compared to other central Illinois cities of similar size, Springfield outpaced Bloomington-Normal and Decatur in GDP from 2006 to 2009, but fell behind Peoria and Champaign-Urbana. Springfield and Champaign-Urbana are the only metropolitan areas in the region which did not experience a drop in GDP during the recession. Compared with the United States as a whole, Springfield’s 11.7 percent growth in GDP from 2006 to 2009 outpaced the national growth rate of 5.3 percent. Springfield is ranked 180 for GDP among all metropolitan areas in the United States. Peoria, ranked at 113, is the only central Illinois city with a higher rank than Springfield, likely due to the presence of Caterpillar, Inc. Chicago is ranked third in the nation.

A press release from BEA suggests that a drop in construction and the manufacturing of durable goods – tangible products with long life spans, such as cars and refrigerators – was partly responsible for the slowed growth nationwide. Springfield was likely isolated from that factor, however, because construction and manufacturing each make up only about 0.3 percent of the local GDP. Service-based companies were the largest contributor to Springfield’s economy, the data show, followed by state government and finance. BEA did not make available data concerning Springfield’s medical sector.

For more information, visit www.tinyurl.com/gdpmetro.

Contact Patrick Yeagle at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com.
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