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The per capita personal income of Northwest Arkansas residents is among the highest in the nation, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The per capita personal income of $65,306 in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area ranks No. 18 nationally. Its 4.3% growth over a year was below the 4.9% average growth in the nation’s 384 metropolitan statistical areas.

The metropolitan areas with higher per capita personal income include such places as Boston, New York, San Francisco and San Jose. Midland, Texas is No. 1 at $122,247.

The national average is $54,446. Per capita personal income is calculated as the total personal income of the residents of a given area divided by the population of the area.

University of Arkansas economist Mervin Jebaraj said Northwest Arkansas’ per capita personal income has continued to rise over several years. The metropolitan area’s PCPI in 2008 was $40,547, meaning the number has increased 4.9% annually for a decade.

Some of the increase can be linked to the high percentage of residents who are Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services shareholders, and those companies’ shares have performed well over the years. The bureau’s data shows 45% of the personal income in the MSA comes from dividends, interest and rent. The national average is 21%.

It’s also likely that the region’s PCPI is increasing because those companies and others are recruiting people to accept jobs and those newcomers are earning higher wages, Jerbaraj said.

The Northwest Arkansas PCPI exceeds that of every peer region that’s used as a benchmark by the Northwest Arkansas Council and other Northwest Arkansas groups. It’s higher than Madison, Wisc. ($59,371), Austin ($58,773), Raleigh ($55,045); Des Moines ($54,098), Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C. ($54,036) and Provo-Orem, Utah ($40,831).

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