America's Richest Cities

Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia

Median household income in the United States declined for the second straight year, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. The national median income was $50,502 in 2011, more than 8% below the 2007 pre-recession peak.
The country's largest cities followed the pattern, with income falling in some cases by more than 10%, even in some of the wealthiest metropolitan areas.

How well a city fared depends in large part on the industries that employ the most residents, according to Alex Friedhoff, a research analyst at Brookings Institute's Metropolitan Policy Program. High-tech jobs, particularly those related to computers and information technology, tend to pay higher salaries and are more likely to be in areas with affluent residents. Most of the jobs in the lower-income metro areas, on the other hand, tend to be in retail, service, agriculture and low-tech manufacturing.


Other key indicators released for 2011 show the disparity between rich and poor cities. Poverty rates in some poor cities are well above the national rate of 15.3%. In McAllen, Tex., for example, more than 35% of residents lived below the poverty level in 2011. In Washington, D.C., one of the wealthiest cities, just 8.3% of residents did.

These are America's richest cities.

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To identify the U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, with the highest and lowest median household income, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed city data on income, poverty rate, median home price and health insurance from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey (ACS). Based on Census treatment, median household income for all years is adjusted for inflation. We also reviewed unemployment data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Census Bureau breaks out the data only for the 366 MSAs with 50,000 people or more. All ranks are out of those 366 metropolitan areas, except for unemployment, which is out of 372 areas.

-Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess, Sam Weigley

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