Forbes looks at new data on household income in different metro areas:
Median family incomes across the country decreased dramatically from 2008 to 2009, and no region was left untouched by the recession. But despite shrinking paychecks nearly across the board, some cities still stand out for their bigger-than-average salaries.
To find the places where Americans earn the most, we looked at median family income data for 2009, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. In September, as part of its annual American Community Survey, the Census released updated data for several hundred Metropolitan Statistical Areas — geographic entities defined by the U.S. government that roughly correspond to major cities.
The place with the highest median family income is the Washington, D.C., metro area, which includes the nation’s capital, as well as wealthy suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. In 2009 families in this region earned a median income of $102,340, a 0.7 percent increase from 2008. D.C. also boasts a better than average unemployment rate of 5.9 percent, far below the September’s 9.2 percent national average.
As we’ve reported here before, these trends began even before the Obama administration started concentrating job creation on the federal sector. In the middle of the Bush bubble, the Washington Post reported:
The three most prosperous large counties in the United States are in the Washington suburbs, according to census figures released yesterday, which show that the region has the second-highest income and the least poverty of any major metropolitan area in the country.
Rapidly growing Loudoun County has emerged as the wealthiest jurisdiction in the nation, with its households last year having a median income of more than $98,000. It is followed by Fairfax and Howard counties, with Montgomery County not far behind.
This of course reflects partly the high level of federal pay, as Chris Edwards and Tad DeHaven have been detailing. And it also reflects the boom in lobbying as government comes to claim and redistribute more of the wealth produced in all those other metropolitan areas.
To slightly amend a ditty I posted a few years ago,
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys,
Don’t let ‘em make software and sell people trucks,
Make ‘em be bureaucrats and lobbyists and such.