The average income in the District of Columbia last year was $12,039, higher than any state in the nation except Alaska, according to the latest estimates by the Commerce Department.

Personal per capita income in the district rose $1,348 last year, up 12.6 percent. In Virginia, the figure was $9,392 last year, up $945 or 11.2 percent, and in Maryland, the average was $10,460, up $1,056, also 11.2 percent.

The department's analysis of per capita personal income for the 50 states and the district--the annual ranking of the richest and poorest states--also documents the heavy impact of the 1980 auto industry recession on the Great Lakes industrial area.

While per capital personal income rose 10.2 percent nationwide between 1979 and 1980, the increase in five Great Lakes states was 7.9 percent, the lowest among the eight regions of the country analyzed by the department.

The greatest gain occurred in New England, with an increase of 12.6 percent, thanks to exceptionally strong increases in earnings from manufacturing and construction. A slow growth in population also boosted the region's ranking, which is based on the total 1980 personal income divided by the population as of July 1, 1980.

In the District of Columbia, total personal income rose 9.8 percent between 1979 and 1980, well under the national average of 11.5 percent, but the district's decline in population was 2.5 percent, the greatest of any of the states and regions analyzed by the department, yielding the high per capita income figure.

In the per capita personal income rankings, Alaska led with an average of $12,790, followed by the District of Columbia with $12,039, Connecticut with $11,720, California with $10,938, New Jersey with $10,924, Wyoming with $10,898, Nevada with $10,727, Illinois with $10,521, Maryland with $10,460, Delaware with $10,339 and Washington with $10,309. Virginia ranked 22nd with $9,392.

The states with the lowest per capita income were concentrated in the Southeast. Lowest of all was Mississippi, with $6,580, and then South Carolina with $7,266, Arkansas with $7,268, Alabama with $7,488, Kentucky with $7,613, Utah with $7,649, Tennessee with $7,720, West Virginia with $7,800, South Dakota with $7,806, North Carolina with $7,819 and Vermont with $7,827.

The Far West had the highest per capita income in 1980, followed by the Mideast, New England, the Great Lakes, the Plains states, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountain states and the Southeast. Five years ago, in 1977, the rankings were, the Far West, the Mideast, the Great Lakes, New England, the Plains states, the Rocky Mountain states, the Southwest and the Southeast. Alaska, which isn't included in any of the eight regions, also had the highest per capita income in 1977. he 10 states with the greatest percentage increases in per capita personal income last year were: Connecticut, Louisiana, Delaware, Alaska, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, Maine, Colorado and New Jersey. All had large increases in total personal income and all except Texas, Louisiana and Colorado had small increases or declines in popoulation.

The 10 states with the slowest growth on a percentage basis were South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan, Indiana, Arkansas, Oregon, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa and Wisconsin. All had small increases or declines in personal income from manufacturing, farming, construction and private service industries, and all except Oregon and Idaho had small increases in population.

Nationwide, the 10.2 percent increase in per capita personal income was matched by an identical increase in prices, based on changes in personal consumption expenditures. In exactly half of the states, the increase in per capita income exceeded or equaled the national increase in prices.

Differences in the growth rates of total personal income by states are striking. In South Dakota, the increase between 1979 and 1980 was only 4.5 percent, while the gain in North Dakota was 5 percent.