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2009 Richest Counties in America

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Stimson-Green Mansion by Patsy Bullitt CollinsI was a little surprised to learn that my home county, Howard County, MD, was the third richest county by median income based on 2008 data released by the American Community Survey. I always knew Howard County was one of the more affluent areas in Maryland but I figured that it wouldn’t stand a chance being compared to the suburbs around New York City, which pepper the rest of the top ten.

Another bit of data that I found both surprising and disconcerting was the percentage of those over 25 with at least a Bachelor’s degree in the richest counties. Arlington County, VA (#9) had a staggering 71% while three others counties (two in Virginia and Howard County, MD) had over 60%. Eleven counties had over 50%. While I knew that college degrees had a significant impact on one’s earning power, and I also know drawing causation out of so little data is dangerous, but this only confirms the suspicions that an advanced degree is almost necessary to get those high paying jobs.

Richest Counties in America

Rank County Population % w. Bachelors+ Median Income
25 Suffolk County, NY 1,510,716 34% $84,767
24 Chester County, PA 485,083 51% $84,844
23 Alexandria City, VA 140,657 63% $85,135
22 Summit County, UT 35,448 53% $85,448
21 Charles County, MD 140,032 28% $86,586
20 Forsyth County, GA 158,008 46% $86,938
19 Santa Clara County, CA 1,734,756 46% $87,287
18 Marin County, CA 246,985 55% $88,101
17 Williamson County, TN 165,336 53% $88,316
16 Goochland County, VA 20,494 32% $88,552
15 Putnam County, NY 99,195 40% $88,580
14 Prince William County, VA 358,719 38% $88,675
13 Calvert County, MD 88,126 30% $89,049
12 Stafford County, VA 120,219 36% $89,536
11 Nassau County, NY 1,352,817 45% $93,579
10 Montgomery County, MD 942,747 59% $93,999
9 Arlington County, VA 204,889 71% $96,390
8 Douglas County, CO 270,286 54% $97,480
7 Morris County, NJ 486,459 52% $97,565
6 Fairfax City, VA 23,281 52% $98,133
5 Somerset County, NJ 321,589 53% $100,207
4 Hunterdon County, NJ 129,000 52% $100,947
3 Howard County, MD 272,412 60% $101,710
2 Fairfax County, VA 1,005,980 60% $106,785
1 Loudoun County, VA 277,433 58% $110,643

Another surprising fact is the concentration and location of affluent counties. Maryland and Virginia claim twelve of the twenty five counties. New York and New Jersey snag up another six. You can read Forbes’ interpretation of the data but they point to the proximity to major metropolitan centers, which also supports some of the other counties.

Thoughts?

(Photo: martinvirtualtours)

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32 Responses to “2009 Richest Counties in America”

  1. Brian says:

    I just wanted to mention that this is only income-based survey. It doesn’t actually talk about how much WEALTH these counties have. I wouldn’t even call it rich. If you make $100K but spend it all, then you have $0. That doesn’t really seem like being rich to me. Anyways, it quite interesting nonetheless.


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