Detailed Findings & Methodology
High incomes are a product of well-paying jobs, and well-paying jobs often require a well-educated workforce. College graduates are far more likely than workers with only a high school diploma to have a high-paying job. All but three cities on this list have a higher bachelor’s degree attainment rate than the nationwide rate of 31.3% of adults with a four-year college education. In the Boulder, Colorado metro area, where the typical household earns $75,000 annually, 60.6% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the largest share of any U.S. metro area.
In addition to a well-educated talent pool, the country’s wealthiest cities almost all boast a strong economy and widespread employment. In 19 of the 25 metro areas on this list, the jobless rate is at or below the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.4%.
High incomes are almost a necessity in many wealthy metro areas due to their high cost of living, which at least partially offsets the high income. In the Urban Honolulu metro area, for example, where the typical household earns $80,500 per year, goods and services are about 25% more expensive on average than they are across the country as a whole. The cost of living is higher than it is nationwide in all but two cities on this list.
Living expenses in the cities on this list are driven largely by exorbitant housing costs. In over half of the highest earning metro areas, the typical home is worth more than double the U.S. median home value of $205,000. In four of the cities on this list, the typical home is worth more than three times the typical American home.
Not surprisingly, the wealthiest cities tend to have relatively few residents who face serious financial hardship. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set the poverty line for 2017 at an annual income of $12,060 for individuals and $24,600 for families of four. Currently, 14.0% of Americans live in poverty. No city on this list has a poverty rate as high as the U.S.’s as a whole.
To determine the richest cities in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey. We identified the 25 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas with the highest median household incomes. Poverty rates, median home values, and educational attainment also came from the ACS. Unemployment rates are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are as of August 2017, the most recent period for which data is available. Cost of living by metro area, or regional price parity, is for 2015 and came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
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