Majority of Richest Counties in Just Three States
Published: Monday, February 20th 2012
Proximity to the nation’s capital seems like a pretty good bet to get into one of the richest counties in the country as two-thirds of the top 15 were located in either Virginia in Maryland. New Jersey (home to the most expensive zip code in the nation) helped fill out the list with another three counties, while Colorado and New York were home to solo entries.
TheStreet.com used census data from 2010 to list the counties with the highest median household income. Three even exceeded the $100,000 mark, which is impressive since median household income declined by 2.3% from 2009 to 2010.
Here are the 15 richest counties in the United States.
15. Charles County, Md.
Median household income: $87,007
Maryland has a total of five counties on the list. Last decade, this county’s population increased by 21.6%.
Roughly half of the county’s population lives in the community of Waldorf, which has been home to a number of celebrities including musician Chuck Brown.
A rather famous physician once lived in Charles County: Gustavus Richard Brown, the lifelong friend and physician of George Washington. He attended to the president on the night he died.
14. St. Mary’s County, Md.
Median household income: $88,444
In just one year (2009 to 2010) the median income increased by 22% for St. Mary’s County. Next door to number 15 Charles County and number 13 Calvert County, more than half of the county’s total area is actually water as it is bordered by the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River, the Wicomico River and the Patuxent River.
13. Calvert County, Md.
Median household income: $88,862
Across the Patuxent River from number 14, about 10% of the population is veterans. Two first ladies — Louisa Adams, wife of President John Quincy Adams, and Margaret Taylor, wife of President Zachary Taylor — have lived here.
12. Montgomery County, Md.
Median household income: $89,155
Just north of Washington, D.C., Montgomery is one of the largest counties on the list. The federal government is a large employer for the county’s residents. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense and Commerce are three of the biggest employers.
The county originally included portions that were ceded to form D.C. It was also home to slave Josiah Henson, whose memoir was the basis for Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
11. Nassau County, N.Y.
Median household income: $91,104
This is the first of only two counties on the list not located in either Maryland, Virginia or New Jersey. Located just outside of Manhattan, this county of 1.3 million residents rests on Long Island. Close to bankruptcy in the 1990s, the county has high property taxes.
The county is home to a number of colleges and universities, including Hofstra University, New York Institute of Technology and Adelphi University.
This county was home to Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 until his death.
10. Morris County, N.J.
Oak tree thought to be over 200 years old. Photography by Leif Knutsen.
Median household income: $91,469
While New Jersey doesn’t have as many counties in the top 15 as Maryland or Virginia, Morris is the first of the state’s three. It was ranked sixth best place to raise a family because of its high graduation rate of 98.4% and the employment possibilities.
Morris is home to three universities — Fairleigh Dickinson University, Drew University and the College of Saint Elizabeth — and the headquarters of 33 Fortune 500 companies, including AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer and Bayer.
9. Prince William County, Va.
Median household income: $92,655
Like Charles County, Prince William County has seen a huge population boom of 43.2% over the last decade.
The county is home to George Mason University, as well as a two wildlife refuges and Manassas National Battlefield Park, where two Civil War battles were fought.
8. Somerset County, N.J.
Median household income: $94,270
Partially located in the Watchung Mountains, the county was transformed from an agricultural community with the addition of a strong pharmaceutical presence.
To add some prestige, Somerset is home to Donald Trump’s exclusive Trump National Golf Club.
7. Stafford County, Va.
Median household income: $94,317
One of the smallest counties on the list, Stafford has less than 130,000 residents. However, the unemployment rate is actually under 5%.
Despite its small size, Stafford is home to the University of Mary Washington and Strayer University. It was also home to President George Washington, who lived on Ferry Farm as a boy. Washington’s other home, Mount Vernon, is located in an even richer county.
6. Douglas County, Colo.
The "rock" of Castle Rock, the county seat. Photography by Billy Hathorn.
Median household income: $94,909
The only county not located in a state on the East Coast, Douglas was fifth in the country in 2009 for job growth over the last eight years and fourth for quality of life in 2004. With just over 175,000 residents, the county’s median age is only 34.
5. Arlington County, Va.
Median household income: $94,986
The home to the Pentagon, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Arlington is geographically the smallest self-governing county at only 26 square miles.
There are a number of national memorials located in Arlington, making it a popular tourist destination. And it was named the safest city in which to weather the recession by BusinessWeek in 2008. When the national unemployment rate was 9.5%, it was only 4.2% in Arlington.
4. Hunterdon County, N.J.
Median household income: $97,874
Although it’s considered part of the New York metropolitan area, 94% of residents work in state and more commute into Pennsylvania for work than NYC. In the past, the median household income has topped $100,000.
William Kirkpatrick, a physician and U.S. Congressman from New York, was born in Hunterdon County. The county seat was the location of the trial of Bruno Hauptmann, who was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Charles Lindbergh’s baby.
3. Howard County, Md.
Median household income: $101,771
Located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. the median home value is just under half a million. Proving that education really pays off, 58% of residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. and the graduation rate for this county is 92%.
2. Fairfax County, Va.
Median household income: $103,010
With more than a million residents Fairfax’s median home value is more than $500,000. It is home to the headquarters of the CIA and the country’s unemployment rate is historically very low. It was also the first county to ever break six figures for the median household income.
Fairfax is smack dab in the middle of counties that all made the top 15.
Just as Stafford County was home to Washington’s boyhood home, Fairfax where Mount Vernon, Washington’s plantation home, is located.
1. Loudoun County, Va.
Median household income: $119,540
Loudoun reclaims the top spot, which is held in 2007 and 2008. The county was largely agricultural until Washington Dulles International Airport was built in the 1960s. Population nearly doubled in the last decade.
The county has more than 20 wineries and a $78 million equine industry.
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