America’s 10 Richest Cities
10. Napa, Calif.
> Median household income: $68,553
> Population: 139,045 (83rd lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.8% (tied-167th highest)
> Poverty rate: 8.9% (tied-8th lowest)
Last year, 8.6% of Napa’s workforce was employed in agriculture or a related industry, one of the higher percentages in the nation. One major reason is likely the area’s wine industry, which gained international recognition and respect following a famous incident in 1976. During the so-called “Judgment of Paris,” several wines from Napa were chosen by a group of judges over French wines. The area is also home to many of the wealthiest Americans. As of last year, 9.5% of Napa area households earned over $200,000 per year, among the highest percentages in the nation. Home values were also quite high, with more than 10% of homes valued at over $1 million as of 2012 — higher than all but a handful of other metro areas.
9. Manchester-Nashua, N.H.
> Median household income: $69,089
> Population: 402,922 (131st highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.5% (38th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.8% (13th lowest)
While most of the nation’s richest cities have a high proportion of exceptionally wealthy households, the Manchester area is notable because so few households are poor. Just 2.1% of all households made less than $10,000 last year, among the lowest percentages in the nation. The city’s poverty rate is similarly low, at just 9.8%, versus nearly 16% nationwide. The Manchester area also has a well-educated population, with more than 37% of adult residents holding at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2012. This was better than over 90% of metro areas nationwide. Overall, New Hampshire’s tax policies have received favorable grades from the Tax Foundation for supporting businesses, since residents do not have to pay any general sales tax or personal income tax on earnings.
8. Honolulu, Hawaii
> Median household income: $71,404
> Population: 976,372 (54th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.2% (29th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.3% (17th lowest)
Following the nationwide trend, the median household income in Honolulu fell by nearly $4,000 between 2008 and 2012. In addition, the poverty rate in the city rose from 8.7% in 2008 to 10.3% last year. Housing in the city has remained extremely expensive for residents. According to real estate website Trulia, Honolulu is among the least affordable housing markets for the middle class in the U.S., with less than half of homes for sale considered affordable for that group. Renting was similarly expensive last year, with median gross rent costing nearly $1,500 a month, the second most nationwide. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, as of 2011 Hawaii had the highest prices for consumer goods in the U.S.
7. Anchorage, Alaska
> Median household income: $71,494
> Population: 392,535 (133rd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.0% (64th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 8.7% (6th lowest)
As the largest metro area in Alaska, Anchorage is the hub for the state’s communication, transportation, and trade industries. In 2012, over 6.4% of the workforce in Anchorage was employed in transportation, warehousing and utilities, one of the higher percentages in the nation. One of the primary reasons for the state’s relative wealth is its burgeoning oil industry. Alaskan residents receive annual checks from the state based on the earnings of its reinvested oil wealth. This year, qualifying residents will receive $900. Anchorage is an outlier in many respects when compared to many of the wealthiest metro areas. For example, a relatively high proportion of residents are without health insurance.
6. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.
> Median household income: $71,517
> Population: 835,981 (64th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.0% (85th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.5% (39th lowest)
Although it is one of America’s wealthiest metro areas, the median household income in the Ventura County area has dropped considerably in recent years. Last year, the median income was $71,517, down from over $76,000 in 2011 and over $81,000 in 2008. However, from 2008 to 2012, the percentage of households in the area with an income over $200,000 did not change significantly. As of last year, 10% of households had incomes exceeding $200,000, versus 5.9% nationwide. The housing market is among the nation’s most expensive for renters, with a median gross rent of more than $1,438 per month last year. Housing in the area is also quite scarce. In 2012, homeowner and rental vacancy rates were both among the lowest in the nation.