Here’s a (link) to a blog post by the Puget Sound Business Journal, which cites a study about the most prosperous counties. In this study, Whatcom is at the top of the list among Washington counties, and 54th highest out of the 455 major U.S. counties.
The study was done by On Numbers, the research division of American City Business Journals, which owns the PSBJ. The findings are based on the total personal income growth rates of the counties between 1986-2011.
Given all the data I’ve seen over the years about Whatcom’s personal income remaining below most of the other bigger Washington counties, I was a bit surprised to see Whatcom as “most prosperous.” I shared the link with Hart Hodges, director of Western Washington’s Center for Economics and Business Research and asked him what he thought.
He noted that the study in the business journal relies on total income, not per capita income. So the article says an area is prosperous when the real driver might be population growth more than any increase in relative income per person.
Hart provided a graph to the total income and a graph of per capita growth to show the difference (see below). It’s interesting to see how well Whatcom did (per capita) between 2000-2009, but the county trailed King County in the 1980s, 1990s and 2010-2011.