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Gorge counties rated by ‘Paycheck friendliness’ data

Klickitat County has the third fastest-growing income in Washington State, ranking 214th among counties in the country, according to a report issued by Smart Asset, a company specializing in financial data analysis.

Under the heading “Most Paycheck Friendly Places,” SmartAsset lists Klickitat County as having an average semi-monthly paycheck of $1,687. Its purchasing power is 1.55 times that figure, arrived at by dividing household income by the local cost of living. The unemployment rate in the county is shown as 7.2 percent, while its income growth is indicated at 4.3 percent. The county shows a growth index rate of 62.04 percent.

In Oregon, Sherman County had the fifth fastest-growing income in the state, Hood River County the sixth fastest, and Wasco County the 19th fastest-growing income. All three counties had an average semi-monthly paycheck of $1,457. Wasco ranked 1876 in the nation for income growth, Hood River 691 and Sherman 648.

Sherman County is shown having an average semi-monthly paycheck of $1,547. Its purchasing power is 1.31 times that figure, arrived at by dividing household income by the local cost of living. The unemployment rate is shown as 4.8 percent, while its income growth is indicated at .9 percent.

Wasco County’s purchasing power is 1.43 and Hood River County 1.79. The unemployment rate in Wasco is 4 percent, Hood River 4.7 percent, and income growth is indicated at .9 percent in Wasco and 2.5 percent in Hood River.

“Our study aims to find the most paycheck friendly places in the country,” the SmartAsset report states. “These are places in the country with favorable economic conditions where you get to keep more of the money you make. To find these places we considered four different factors: semi-monthly paycheck, purchasing power, unemployment rate, and income growth.”

The company first calculates the semi-monthly paycheck for a single individual with two personal allowances. “We applied relevant deductions and exemptions before calculating income tax withholding. To better compare withholding across counties we assumed a $50,000 annual income. We then indexed the paycheck amount for each county to reflect the counties with the lowest withholding burden.

Then comes the purchasing power index. This reflects the counties with the highest ratio of household income to cost of living. “We also created an unemployment rate index that reflect the counties with the lowest unemployment. For income growth, we calculated the annual growth in median income over five years for each county and indexed the results.”

Finally, SmartAsset calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall paycheck friendliness score. “We used a one-half weighting for semi-monthly paycheck and a one-sixth weighting for purchasing power, unemployment rate and income growth. We indexed the final number so higher values reflect the most paycheck friendly places.”

The entire report is viewable at https://smartasset.com/taxes/paycheck-calculator#washington/income.

Mark Gibson contributed to this report.

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