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Virginians’ Incomes Set A Record At End Of Economic Boom In 2000

February 11, 2003-- The last decade’s boom years ended with a bang in Virginia, with the state’s median income for couples rising to a record $56,530 in 2000, according to a new study of tax data by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The median adjusted gross income (AGI) on tax returns for married couples in 2000 increased by 5.2 percent from the previous year, or 1.8 percent after accounting for inflation, said the report’s authors, economists John L. Knapp and Stephen C. Kulp. The median is the level at which half of filers earned more and half earned less.

This was the sixth year of gains in real income for Virginians, reflecting the strong economic growth in the nation and state during the second half of the decade.

Virginians’ income gains, however, may not be continuing in the current decade’s poor national economy, the economists cautioned. The steep declines in stock markets and the recession that began in 2001 point to a slowdown.

Measured in inflation-adjusted dollars, Virginians saw decreases in their incomes in 1974-75, 1979-82, 1989-91 and 1993-94, Knapp and Kulp said. All the declines except 1993-94 corresponded with national recessions.

In 2000, the five localities with the highest couples’ median incomes all were in Northern Virginia: Loudoun County ($80,122), Falls Church ($78,995), Fairfax County ($78,880), Arlington ($76,501) and the city of Fairfax ($74,083). Northern Virginia accounted for more than 40 percent of Virginians’ total income in 2000.

The five localities with the lowest median couples’ incomes all are counties in Southwest Virginia: Grayson ($31,413), Russell ($30,012), Dickinson ($29,458), Buchanan ($28,604) and Lee ($27,236). About 25 percent of the couples’ tax returns in the five southwest counties claimed less than $15,000, well below the 2000 federal poverty level of $17,463 for a couple with two children.

In an annual index of income concentration, the U.Va. study also measured inequality in the distribution of income in 2000. The localities with the highest disparities in incomes between wealthier and less wealthy taxpayers in 2000 were Goochland County, the city of Richmond, Lancaster County, the city of Williamsburg and Albemarle County.

The complete report, “Virginia Adjusted Gross Income, 2000” is available on the Web at http://www.virginia.edu/coopercenter/vastat/publications/spotlight2000.pdf

Detailed tables are shown at:ftp://ftp.virginia.edu/pub/cps/income/income.html#AGI
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Reporters: for interviews or additional information please contact John Knapp at (434) 982-5638.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (434) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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