Here's another sign that the recession is losing its grip on the Northern San Joaquin Valley: Per-capita personal income rose to record-high levels in 2011.
Merced County's per-capita income hit $28,497, which broke its 2007 record.
Income estimates released Monday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show income increases in all the nation's 366 metropolitan statistical areas. That hasn't happened since 2007.
Stanislaus County incomes jumped to $32,115 per person last year, which was $1,000 more than the previous high set in 2008.
San Joaquin County had an average of $31,013 in personal income per person last year; that was just below its 2008 high.
Tuolumne County incomes rose last year to $36,680, which topped its 2008 record.
Calaveras County incomes rose to $35,828, topping its 2008 peak.
While the region's incomes are up, they're still far less than state and national averages.
California's per-capita income was $43,647 last year. That's $11,532 more per person than what Stanislaus residents earned.
U.S. per-capita income hit a record-high $41,560 in 2011. That was a 5.2 percent annual increase.
Northern San Joaquin Valley incomes have fallen further behind the rest of the state during the past dec-ade.
Of California's 58 counties, Merced ranked 55th in per-capita income last year.
Stanislaus ranked 43rd last year. A decade ago, it ranked 39th, and three decades ago, it ranked 33rd. San Joaquin's income was 46th and Tuolumne's was 29th.
How valley residents get their income also has shifted over the decades -- with more and more of it coming from public service agencies.
The oldest income statistics for Stanislaus posted on the Bureau of Economic Analysis Web site was for 1969. Back then, Stanislaus residents earned 73 percent of their income from wages and salaries for the work they did.
But last year, only 63 percent of Stanislaus incomes came from working. Instead, the county's residents got 23 percent of their income from government social benefits and receipts from businesses, such as private pensions and retirement benefits.
Such income "for which no current services are performed" has grown steadily since 1969, when it accounted for 13 percent of incomes in Stanislaus.
Investment stats flat
What hasn't changed much over the decades is the income generated by dividends, interest and rents, which accounted for 14 percent of Stanislaus incomes in 1969 and 2011.
Income patterns in Merced and San Joaquin counties are similar.
In Merced last year, 61 percent of personal income came from working, 26 percent from social programs and business benefits, and 13 percent from dividends, interest and rents.
San Joaquin incomes came 61 percent from working, 25 percent from social programs and business benefits, and 14 percent from dividends, interest and rents.
Nationwide, personal incomes came 66 percent from working, 18 percent from social programs and business benefits, and 16 percent from dividends, interest and rents.
How much U.S. residents earned last year varied greatly from one community to another.
The nation's highest per-capita income was in New York County (Manhattan), where every man, woman and child earned an average $121,301 last year.
The nation's poorest place was Crowley County, Colo., where the per-capita income was just $16,752 in 2011.
More details about income differences by county are posted online at www.BEA.gov.
Modesto Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2196.