Special Report

The Richest County in Every State

Source: Rivers Langley; SaveRivers / Wikimedia Commons

Alabama: Shelby County
> Median household income: $77,799 (state: $50,536)
> Poverty rate: 7.5% (state: 16.7%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment: 2.5% (state: 4.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 42.9% (state: 25.5%)
> Largest place in county: Hoover

The typical household in Shelby County, Alabama, earns $77,799 a year, more than the median income in every other county in the state and about $27,300 more than the income the typical household across the state as a whole earns.

Centrally located in the state, Shelby County is in close proximity to Birmingham, offering residents easy access to a relatively large job market. Just 2.5% of the labor force in Shelby County is unemployed, compared to Alabama’s 4.0% jobless rate.

Alaska: Juneau City and Borough
> Median household income: $88,390 (state: $77,640)
> Poverty rate: 7.7% (state: 10.7%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment: 6.5% (state: 8.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 38.4% (state: 29.6%)
> Largest place in county: Juneau

Juneau City and Borough, Alaska, is the wealthiest county equivalent in the state. Most area households earn over $88,300 a year, while across all of Alaska, most households earn less than $78,000 annually.

As is often the case in wealthier parts of the country, Juneau residents are more likely to have a college degree than most Americans. An estimated 38.4% of the local 25 and older residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 32.1% of all American adults and 29.6% of Alaskan adults.

Source: Zeb Micelli / Wikimedia Commons

Arizona: Maricopa County
> Median household income: $64,468 (state: $58,945)
> Poverty rate: 13.8% (state: 15.1%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment: 7.2% (state: 7.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 32.7% (state: 29.5%)
> Largest place in county: Phoenix

Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix, is home to 4.3 million people and is the most populous county in Arizona. With a median annual household income of $64,468, it is also the wealthiest county in the state.

Though the typical household in Maricopa County earns about $5,500 more than the typical Arizona household, incomes in the county are more closely in line with the national level, topping the national median by only about $1,600. Maricopa residents are also about as likely as the typical American to live below the poverty line, as the local poverty rate of 13.8% is closely in line with the comparable 13.4% national poverty rate.

Source: Brandonrush / Wikimedia Commons

Arkansas: Benton County
> Median household income: $66,362 (state: $47,597)
> Poverty rate: 9.4% (state: 17.0%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment: 4.2% (state: 5.7%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.4% (state: 23.0%)
> Largest place in county: Rogers

The typical household in Arkansas earns just $47,597 a year, about $15,200 less than the typical American household. Though it is one of the poorest states in the country, there are parts of Arkansas where incomes are higher than they are statewide. In Benton County, the wealthiest in the state, the median household income is $66,362, about $3,500 more than the national median.

Some of the largest corporate employers in Benton County include logistics company J.B. Hunt, investment management firm Arvest Bank Group, and meat production company Tyson Foods. Unemployment in the county stands at 4.2% — considerably lower than the comparable 5.7% state jobless rate and 6.4% national rate.

Source: DenisTangneyJr / iStock via Getty Images

California: Santa Clara County
> Median household income: $124,055 (state: $75,235)
> Poverty rate: 7.5% (state: 13.4%)
> Nov. 2020 unemployment: 5.1% (state: 7.9%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 52.4% (state: 33.9%)
> Largest place in county: San Jose

With a median household income of $124,055, Santa Clara County is the wealthiest county in California and one of the wealthiest in the United States. The area covers much of the Silicon Valley region, which is home to the headquarters and operations of many of the world’s largest tech companies — many of which are also among the world’s highest paying employers. These companies include Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel.

Higher-paying jobs are often only available to workers with higher levels of education. In Santa Clara County, over half of all adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to only about one-third of adults in both California and the U.S. as a whole.

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