D.C. Is Nation's Richest Metropolitan Area
WASHINGTON -- The nation's capital and the metropolitan area that surrounds it is now the richest in the United States. According to Bloomberg, U.S. Census Bureau figures put average household income in the area at $84,523 in 2010. The national median income comes in roughly $35,000 below that figure. D.C. now boasts higher average incomes than the San Jose metropolitan area in California, home to Silicon Valley's big tech fortunes.
Bloomberg attributes D.C.'s high income levels to federal worker salaries and the concentration of lawyers and lobbyists:
Total compensation for federal workers, including health care and other benefits, last year averaged $126,369, compared with $122,697 in 2009, according to Bloomberg News calculations of Commerce Department data. There were 170,467 federal employees in the District of Columbia as of June. The Washington area includes the District of Columbia, parts of Northern Virginia, eastern Maryland and eastern West Virginia.With the high levels of income also come high levels of inequality. As The Washington Post reported in December that the District of Columbia has a high Index of Dissimilarity, which is used to measure segregation:
At 74 percent, the District had the fifth-highest segregation level in the nation, and Virginia had one of the lowest, 50 percent. Maryland was in between, with 65 percent.And as The Huffington Post noted in September, poverty rates are staggeringly high in the nation's capital, with 110,000 residents living below the poverty line. D.C.'s child poverty rate is 30.4 percent, according to Census Bureau information.
In an August Washington Post feature on the wealth concentrated in places like Great Falls, Va., James Galbraith, a professor at the University of Texas said the area's high incomes have led to resentment of the federal government: "I think it reinforces the cultural disconnect that exists between Washington and the rest of the country. ... Do you have a community of insiders that has a hammerlock on their share of the public resources? I think the answer is yes."