COVID relief helps boost Illinois residents’ personal income, which lags U.S. growth


Illinois saw an uptick in personal income last year as historic levels of federal aid, enhanced unemployment benefits and public assistance drove the sharpest annual growth in 20 years.

An analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts showed personal income in Illinois grew by 2.9%, but it would have declined if not for the federal assistance.

Nationally, the sum of residents’ personal income from all sources rose by 4.9% in 2020, the largest annual increase since 2000, after adjusting for inflation.

“Total government assistance was up 35% nationally from 2019 and that represents the largest gain since the 1940s,” said Mike Maciag, an officer with Pew Charitable Trusts.

Personal income measures all income received by a state’s residents from various sources. It includes wages and salaries; supplements to wages, such as retirement benefits; income from owning a business; dividends, interest and rent; and government benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and payments from programs created through the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Arizona and Montana led all states with total personal income growth rates of 7.1%, followed by Utah (6.9%), Rhone Island (6.4%) and Maine (6.3%).

Only Alaska (1.9%), Connecticut (1.7%) and Wyoming (1.1%) registered personal income growth rates below 3%.

Illinois’ pre-pandemic growth rate from 2007 to 2019 of 1% ranks near the bottom of all states, marking one of the slowest recoveries since the Great Recession.

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