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Californians' Income Falls for First Time Since WWII

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The bureau said 2009 income statewide totaled $1.56 trillion, down about 2.5 percent from $1.6 trillion in 2008. The 2009 level also came in just under the 2007 total.

California's decline was a third more than the national 1.8 percent personal income drop, reflecting the relative intensity of the state's recession.

The numbers came as no surprise to analysts, state government officials and job industry professionals, given double-digit statewide unemployment and sagging industry segments throughout the California last year.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for California's Finance Department, cited three factors behind sliding 2009 incomes. "The first was an overall drop in payroll jobs," he said, noting a loss of 898,000 non-farm positions, or 6 percent, in California last year.

Palmer also pointed to "what happened in the stock markets last year" (income losses tied to stock options and dividends) and "an overall drop in wages offset somewhat by unemployment benefits."

Reduced incomes have been reflected in other ways. Californians have reduced retail spending, and state and local governments have felt the effects in lower tax revenue.

In June, the state board of equalization said it collected $48.4 billion in revenue in the 2008-09 fiscal year, about $4.7 billion less than the previous year. A primary factor, the board said, was a decrease of $68.5 billion (12.4 percent) in taxable sales from 2007-08.

Some experts noted that a rocky 2009 has passed, and there are signs of slow recovery this year.

Pamela Randall, regional director for the global staffing firm Manpower, said "Sacramento companies are starting to feel more comfortable adding to their head count and core staffing needs ... There are some signs that this region is continuing to grow."

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