In recent years, income inequality has taken a much more central role in the national discourse, and an increasingly-politicized one at that.
While there are several potential explanations for this change, the clearest is simply that income inequality is on the rise in the U.S. to an extent not seen in recent memory. While middle class incomes have stagnated or even declined at times, earnings of the wealthiest Americans have climbed steadily over the past few decades.
Partially as a result, wealth has become increasingly concentrated in certain parts of the country. Today, the typical household in many U.S. towns well more than doubles the median income nationwide. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Census data on some 2,640 towns across the United States to identify the richest town in every state.
Despite being thousands of miles apart, many of these towns share several common characteristics. For example, most are primarily residential towns located near a major urban center. Major U.S. cities tend to have concentrations of high paying jobs — and clusters of wealthy suburbs on their outskirts.
The industries present in these cities can partially determine just how wealthy these affluent suburbs are. For example, several of the wealthiest towns in the entire country can be found near the D.C. metropolitan area, where many find lucrative work as government contractors and lawyers. Several other towns on this list are within commuting distance of New York City and its high paying finance industry.
High-paying jobs often require highly skilled workers. As a result, residents of the highest earning town in every state also tend to be highly educated. The share of the adult population with at least a bachelor’s degree is greater than the corresponding statewide share in all but four towns on this list. Nationwide, about 30% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree attainment rate exceeds 50% in 30 of the 50 towns on this list.
Higher incomes mean residents are more likely to be able to afford higher priced homes. Some towns on this list have among the most expensive residential real estate markets in the country. In Rolling Hills, California, for example, a typical home is worth over $2 million. In several other towns, including Darien, Connecticut and Travilah, Maryland median home values exceed $1 million. In every town on this list, the median home value is greater than the typical home value statewide.
To determine the richest town in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median household incomes in every town with a population between 1,000 and 25,000 in each state from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. All social and economic figures are based on five-year estimates for the period of 2011-2015. To control for potential errors that can arise in low population areas, we did not consider towns where the margin of error at 90% confidence was greater than 10% of the point estimate of both median household income and population. We considered the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, poverty rates, uninsured rates, and median home value — all from the ACS. Income inequality, as measured by the Gini coeffecient, also came from the ACS.
These are the richest town in every state.