Southwest Florida fared well in a report on personal income released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The Naples-Marco Island metropolitan area finished sixth in the nation with an average income of $59,264. The report used 2011 income data and covered 366 metropolitan areas. The Ft. Myers-Cape Coral metro area came in above the U.S. average at $43,022, the 64th highest income in the nation. The Naples income figure is buoyed by the fact that 53% of the income in the area comes from dividends, interest and rent. The average for U.S. residents is 16% of income is earned from dividends, interest and rent. 

The 2011 data is the most recent year charted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, but assuming that the trend holds this year, it bodes well for Southwest Florida and the nation’s recovery, which is reliant on consumers spending more money.

“We are several years into the economic recovery, so all the boats are starting to be lifted — a little bit,” said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist who regularly updates his “Florida and Metro Forecast.”

Personal income includes wages and salaries, property income such as dividends and rent and transfer payments like Social Security.

Of the 366 metropolitan areas nationally, growth in the measure ranged from 1 percent in Rochester, Minn., to 14.8 percent in Odessa, Texas.

Personal income measured across the nation rose 5.2 percent in 2011, up from 3.9 percent in 2010. Even adjusting for higher price inflation of 2.4 percent a year for 2011, real personal income still rose, the government said.

The breakdown of the overall figure:

• What the bureau calls property income — stock dividends, interest and rents — are part of the personal income figure, and grew by a substantial 7.6 percent for all metro areas in 2011, double the 3.6 percent growth rate of 2010.

• Transfer payments like Medicare, Social Security and unemployment insurance slowed to 1.5 percent in 2011 from a 7.1 percent rate in 2010.

Earnings — meaning wages and salaries — rose 5.5 percent nationally.

The overall measure is an important one because increases in personal income lead directly to higher spending, said Chris Lafakis, a Moody’s Analytics economist who studies Florida. He noted that the nation’s savings rate has remained relatively static at 5 percent per year.

“For every dollar a household gets it will spend 95 cents of it,” Lafakis said. “So every dollar increase in income is going to equal a 95-cent increase in spending.”