The worst year for South Florida since the Great Depression: 2009


Of the five worst drops in personal income in Florida, four of them happened before 1934. The fifth occurred 36 months ago.

If you lived in South Florida during 2009, you survived the worst year for the region’s economy since the Great Depression.

That’s the conclusion from a new set of personal-income statistics that show just how damaging the recession was here and throughout Florida.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis keeps per-person income figures at the county level back to 1969. That time frame encompasses the severe recessions of the 1970s and 80s. As you can see from the chart, no income drop came even close to what we saw in 2009 -- a 5 percent drop in Miami-Dade and an 8 percent plunge in Broward.

Personal income includes government aid, and without the state and federal dollars, the decline would have been even worse.

But to really put the recession in context, you have to look at the state numbers. The BEA keeps Florida personal income numbers back to 1929. If you take the five worse annual drops in personal income for the state, four of them occurred before 1934. The fifth worse: 1929, with an 8 percent drop.

Judging by the state numbers, which saw no steep drops in personal income after the 1930s, it’s safe to assume that 2009 was the worst for South Florida since then, too.

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine tracks South Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession. For the latest analysis of economic numbers, visit it online at

Read more The Economic Time Machine stories from the Miami Herald

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