The growth was calculated after taking into consideration the effects of inflation, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The nominal growth in resident income was 8.8 percent in the first quarter.
The strong growth was supported by China's 6.8 percent GDP growth in the first quarter, which held steady from the previous quarter and is well above the government annual growth target of around 6.5 percent this year.
In the first three months, the real growth of per capita disposable income in rural areas was faster than that in urban regions, indicating narrowing of the urban-rural income gap, according to NBS data.
The average per capita disposable income for rural residents reached 4,226 yuan from January to March, up 6.8 percent after deducting price factors, while that of urban residents increased 5.7 percent in real terms to 10,781 yuan.
Some 174.41 million rural laborers were working outside their hometowns as of the end of March, up by 1.1 percent or 1.88 million people compared with one year earlier.
China aims to double the per capita income of its urban and rural residents by 2020 from the 2010 levels, to build a moderately prosperous society.