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Given our struggling economy, this will probably come as no shock: Americans’ paychecks shrunk last year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, personal income declined by 1.8% in 2009 after having suffered a more significant drop of 2.7% in 2007. That said, incomes did increase in more than 100 metropolitan areas last year, largely due to government money.

"In 77 of the 134 regions that saw incomes increase, the growth came from transfer receipts such as unemployment benefits or Social Security payments. In most of the remaining 57 metro areas, the gains were concentrated in the government sector,” the Journal reports. For example, one of the places with the largest increase in personal income was Fayetteville, North Carolina, a small city that just happens to sit next to two large military bases.

The disparity between money earned through the government rather than private and public companies has only increased this year. A study published in May found that Americans now receive nearly 18% of their income from government funds.

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Meanwhile, according to data from the Commerce Department for the year so far, incomes have remained mostly flat in 2010, and actually declined in June, the most recent month on record, as more Census workers were let go.

For those looking to supplement their incomes in this economy, there are several tools you can use. Sites like and offer small freelance gigs with the possibility of turning them into part-time jobs later on. Also, take a look at these stories from readers who managed to earn an extra $1,000 a month by doing everything from walking dogs on the side to dealing cards at special events.

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