31. New Mexico: Los Alamos County
> County median household income: $110,190
> State median household income: $46,718
> Poverty rate: 5.1%
> Oct. unemployment: 3.2%
> Major metro area: N/A
Los Alamos County, New Mexico, is a huge outlier in its state. The area’s median household income of $110,190 a year is nearly $50,000 higher than the second wealthiest county in the state. Los Alamos County is best known as the home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which helped develop the nuclear bomb.
The lab is the community’s lifeblood, as the county has just over 18,000 residents and the lab employs more than 11,000 people. Nearly two-thirds of county residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree — the second largest share of any U.S. county — as many of the jobs at Los Alamos require an advanced education.
32. New York: Nassau County
> County median household income: $105,744
> State median household income: $62,765
> Poverty rate: 5.9%
> Oct. unemployment: 3.1%
> Major metro area: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
Nassau County sits on Long Island, occupying the area just outside of New York City. This proximity to the city means that residents have access to the numerous high-paying jobs that can be found in the most populous city in the country.
The county’s 44.4% bachelor’s degree attainment rate means many are qualified for high-paying positions found in the city. Of Nassau County residents in the labor force, 10.2% work in the fields of finance, insurance, or real estate. Nationwide, just 6.6% of American workers are employed in those fields.
33. North Carolina: Wake County
> County median household income: $73,577
> State median household income: $50,320
> Poverty rate: 10.1%
> Oct. unemployment: 2.9%
> Major metro area: Raleigh, NC
Wake County occupies much of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, home to several scientific research universities and a concentration of jobs in research-intensive industries. The educational attainment rate in the county is very high. More than half, 51%, of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, exceeding the college attainment rate for the state by more than 20 percentage points.
A large share of workers in Wake County are employed in the typically high-paying scientific, professional, and managerial sector, which likely helps boost incomes. The area’s $73,577 median annual household income is more than $23,000 higher than the state’s median income.
34. North Dakota: Williams County
> County median household income: $89,874
> State median household income: $61,285
> Poverty rate: 9.0%
> Oct. unemployment: 1.7%
> Major metro area: N/A
North Dakota is the fastest growing state in the country, with the population increasing by 10.2% over the past five years — nearly triple the national growth rate. The state’s oil boom is the reason for the influx of residents, and it likely also explains why Williams County is the wealthiest county in the state.
Unemployment in Williams County stands at 1.7% — below both the 2.0% state and 3.8% national unemployment rates. The typical household in Williams County earns nearly $90,000 a year, well above the state’s $61,285 median annual household income.
35. Ohio: Delaware County
> County median household income: $100,229
> State median household income: $52,407
> Poverty rate: 5.1%
> Oct. unemployment: 3.3%
> Major metro area: Columbus, OH
Delaware is the only one of Ohio’s 88 counties where over a half of all households earn at least $100,000 a year. The typical Ohio household earns roughly half that much a year. Delaware County is located just north of Columbus, providing area residents access to jobs in and around the state capital. Partially as a result, just 3.3% of workers in the county are unemployed, below the 3.8% national unemployment rate. Additionally, just 2.6% of county households live on less than $10,000 per year, roughly a third of the comparable across Ohio as a whole.
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