Special Report

The Richest County in Every State

Michael B. Sauter, Samuel Stebbins, Thomas C. Frohlich

Los Alamos County, New Mexico
Source: Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons

31. Los Alamos, New Mexico
> County median household income: $101,934
> State median household income: $44,963
> Poverty rate: 6.1%
> Nov. unemployment: 4.2%

While income inequality is prevalent to varying degrees nationwide, it is especially pronounced in New Mexico. Only in New Mexico and Tennessee there are counties with a median household income that is more than double the statewide median income. In Los Alamos, the typical household earns $101,934 a year, well above the $44,963 annual income of the typical household in the state.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory provides many of the area’s high-paying jobs. Owned by the Department of Energy, the laboratory employs some 10,500 people and has an annual budget of about $2.45 billion.

Nassau County, New York
Source: Wikimedia Commons

32. Nassau, New York
> County median household income: $99,465
> State median household income: $59,269
> Poverty rate: 6.2%
> Nov. unemployment: 3.7%

Nassau is one of three counties on this list that can likely attribute the counties’ high incomes to their proximity to Manhattan and the city’s high-paying jobs. Located on New York’s Long Island, a short drive or train ride from New York City, the typical household in Nassau county earns $99,465 a year, or about $40,000 more than the median income across New York State.

As is the case in many high income counties, serious financial hardship is scarce in Nassau. Some 6.2% of of the county’s nearly 1.4 million residents live in poverty, a far smaller share than the state’s 15.7% poverty rate.

Raleigh (Wake County), North Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

33. Wake, North Carolina
> County median household income: $67,309
> State median household income: $46,868
> Poverty rate: 11.3%
> Nov. unemployment: 4.0%

In close proximity to some of the best universities in the world, such as North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wake County residents have substantial access to higher education. An estimated 49.0% of adults in the county have at least a bachelor’s degree, the second highest college attainment rate in the state. The county is also home to much of the Research Triangle Park — one of the largest office parks in the world and a source of many high-paying jobs. Additionally, just 4.0% of the county’s workforce is unemployed, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Good schools and job opportunities are likely among the reasons Wake County is the wealthiest in the state.

Williams County, North Dakota
Source: Andrew Filer / Wikimedia Commons

34. Williams, North Dakota
> County median household income: $88,013
> State median household income: $57,181
> Poverty rate: 10.1%
> Nov. unemployment: 3.4%

With a median household income of $88,013 a year, Williams residents earn the highest incomes of any county in North Dakota. For a majority of counties on this list, high-paying jobs are usually the result of high educational attainment. Williams is an exception, however. Only 21.0% of adults in Williams have at least a bachelor’s degree, a smaller share than the 27.7% of adults statewide and the 29.8% of adults across the United States. A majority of high-paying jobs in Williams are likely tied to oil and gas extraction. Williams is one of the top oil-producing counties in North Dakota’s lucrative Bakken shale region.

Delaware County, Ohio
Source: Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

35. Delaware, Ohio
> County median household income: $91,955
> State median household income: $49,429
> Poverty rate: 4.5%
> Nov. unemployment: 3.2%

The typical Delaware County household earns $91,955 a year, the most of any county in Ohio and among the most nationwide. The high incomes in the county are likely tied to the area’s relatively strong job market and high levels of education among members of the labor force. Just 3.2% of the county’s labor force is unemployed, versus the 4.6% national unemployment rate. An estimated 51.8% of area adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, nearly twice the college attainment rate for Ohio.