The Rocky Mountain region last year slipped into last place in per capita personal income, for the first time bumping the Southeast from the bottom spot on the list, the government reported.

Per capita income in the Rocky Mountain states last year averaged $14,282, 13 percent below the national average of $16,444, the Commerce Department reported. In the Southeast region, income averaged $14,331.The Southeast had ranked last in every year since 1929, the earliest year for which the department has estimated regional per capita income.

While per capita income grew 6.2 percent nationwide in 1988, a pace that was matched in the Southeast, it increased 5.4 percent in the Rocky Mountain region.

The highest-income region in 1988 was New England, with per capita personal income of $20,013, up 7.8 percent from the previous year. The Middle Atlantic region ranked second, at $18,904, up 7 percent from 1987.

Both regions enjoyed rapid growth in service and construction industry payrolls last year, the department said.

Here's how other regions fared last year: Far West, $18,235, up 5.8 percent from 1987; Great Lakes, $16,161, up 6.3 percent; Plains, $15,495, up 4.8 percent; Southwest, $14,365, up 5.2 percent.

By state, Connecticut ranked first in per capita income in 1988, at $22,761. It was followed by New Jersey, $21,882; Massachusetts, $20,701; Alaska, $19,514; and Maryland, $19,314.

The District of Columbia would have ranked third if it had been ranked along with the states, with per capita income of $21,667 last year.

At the other end of the list, Mississippi was last with per capita income of $10,992, followed by West Virginia, $11,658; Utah, $12,013; Arkansas, $12,172; Louisiana, $12,193; and South Dakota, $12,475.

South Dakota and North Dakota were the only states in which per capita income fell last year, dropping 0.6 percent in the former and 1.9 percent in the latter to $12,720.

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(Additional Story)

Utah 48th

Utah was ranked 48th with a 1988 per capita income of $12,013, a 5.5 percent increase over 1987.