Nov 12, 2012
Bill McMeekin
Bill McMeekin
All Posts

Higher-Income Households: East Coast Bias

A new analysis shows most of the top counties for total personal income growth are in the South and Southwest

Prolific holdup man Willie Sutton was once reportedly asked why he robbed banks. “Because,” Willie was said to reply, “it’s where the money is.”

If Willie were plying his trade today, he might want to look closely at the Eastern Seaboard, where a new study of U.S. Census Bureau data shows are some of the nation’s highest median household incomes and percentage of households with incomes exceeding $150,000.

Topping the list is Maryland, with a median household income of more than $70,000. Rounding out the top five: Alaska ($67,825), New Jersey ($67,458), Connecticut ($65,753) and Washington D.C. ($63,124).

States with the highest percentage of households with incomes of more than $150,000:

1. Washington D.C. (18%)
2. New Jersey (16.2%)
3. Maryland (15.8%)
4. Connecticut (15.7%)
5. Massachusetts (14.4%)

And three of the next five states – Alaska and California are the exceptions – also are on the East Coast.

These high-income states share some characteristics. Each is a location for major corporate address. In fact, the top five for percentage of $150,000 and over households total  55 Fortune 500 headquarters among them.

They are also states with percentages of workers over 25 with a bachelor’s degree that are well abovce the U.S. average of 28.5 percent. Washington D.C. has an off the charts rate of 48.5 percent of residents age 25 or older  with a bachelor’s degree and Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut each have bachelor’s degree rates at 35 percent or higher.

So are the states with the top median household incomes the ones creating the most jobs. Not necessarily. None of the top 10 highest median income states is in the top 10 in percentage increase in job gains over the past year, and just three of the top 10 in percentage of $150,000 or higher median income households are in the top 10 in percentage of job growth over the past year – California, Alaska and New York.

How does your community measure up? What’s more important – attracting jobs or increasing household income and wealth? How does that dynamic fit into your economic development strategy? Share your thoughts.


Leave a Comment