per capita income

Per capita income is one way of measuring the economic strength of a community, although there are many others as well.

That got us thinking a bit about how Watertown measures up with other communities in the area.

So, we decided to jump on the computer and do a  little googling of “per capita incomes. There’s a host of sites and they all offer different data, based on ZIP codes, various municipalities, different counties, you name it there is some data.

For this little segment we decided to use the most recent census data available which is from 2015, a little old but pretty accurate for his purpose.

We decided to seek data on a dozen communities in the Watertown area and here’s some of the information we found.

First, remember, these are per capita incomes as opposed to average household incomes and they are not comparisons from year to year but rather approximate comparisons between communities.

The highest per capita income of communities that popped up as being near Watertown was not much of a surprise when a person thinks about it. Number one is the village of Lac La Belle which has a small segment within the Jefferson County boundary. The average per capita income in that Lac La Belle lake community is an astounding $77,379! That’s two and one-half times as high as most others in the area.

The second highest is also not a surprise and that one is Oconomowoc with a per capita income of $34,066. Of course, Oconomowoc also has the benefit of being a lake community.

From there the per capita incomes are pretty closely listed.

Third is Lake Mills at $30,248. Johnson Creek is fourth with $29,643, and rounding out the top five is Ashippun at $28,465.

Ixonia is sixth at $27,924, Waterloo is eighth at $26,213, the Dodge County portion of Watertown is ninth at $25,752, Beaver Dam is 10th with a per capita income of $24,844, 11th is Jefferson at $23,485 and 12th is the Jefferson County portion of Watertown at $23,271.

There’s a couple conclusions we can draw from these statistics. One is that communities nearer to Waukesha and Dane counties fare better in incomes because many  of those people work in the metropolitan areas like Milwaukee and Madison where salaries are generally higher. The other one is that if your community has a lake, it’s likely to attract higher income people that can afford the higher cost lake living.

Watertown is at the lower end of this non-scientific listing and we believe some of that has been the general softening of the manufacturing sectors in recent years.

But, to counter that, there is a great deal of activity going on that is designed to bring our community to a new higher level of business activity and as a result more economic opportunities.

The new emphasis on downtown revitalization is sure to pay dividends down the road, and our west side industrial park is nearly filled with Clasen Quality Chocolates, the new Baso plant and some other potential businesses. Additional land for business/industrial expansion is being sought as well.

So, we’re seeing a lot of solid opportunities coming our way. The group working to help entrepreneurs to bring their dreams into a reality of a new business is sure to pay dividends as well.

Stay tuned. This year and 2018 should have some real positive developments.


The Watertown Common Council this week approved a $1 million rehabilitation of the lower Rock River Dam in the heart of downtown Watertown.

That the work had to be done was a foregone conclusion, but it is still a big chunk of cash. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will blunt that total with a $362,000 grant.

We found it interesting that Watertown residents understand the importance of both the upper and lower dams in Watertown. They certainly give beauty to the city as the Rock River winds its way through the area.

Imagine how Riverside Park, for example, would look if the dams would be removed. We’d have a raging river in spring, then mud flats and weeds in the summer and who knows what in the fall. No doubt it would be flooding or mud flats with little in between.

We know there are some who feel dams impede fish migration and that is true to a point but steps have been taken by the DNR and other conservation groups to minimize those issues while at the same time keeping the water levels at an acceptable level.

That’s in somewhat of a contrast to our downstream city of Janesville which is in the midst of a discussion on whether or not the Monterey Dam should be removed in downtown Janesville.

Like Watertown, that community has two dams. The other one is called Centerway Dam.

Some people believe removing the Monterey Dam would benefit the community and would have little impact on water levels. Others fear the mud flats and weeds issue in the summer and the fact that it would limit boating, kayaking and other recreational water uses because of what they say would be the resulting lower water levels.

Of course, one of the main arguments for removing the dam is financial issue. The dam needs repairs and the estimated cost is about $700,000. One Janesville resident recently said he would donate $200,000 toward the renovations and said he had a couple other people willing to chip in $100,000 and up to renovate the dam and keep it from being removed.

It will be interesting to see how that all plays out in Janesville, but in Watertown there was no decision to make other than to do the necessary repairs and continue to keep the Rock River as one of our community’s great assets.


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