Circling Washington and beyond: The 30 richest counties in the United States

Published: Saturday, June 8 2013 10:36 a.m. MDT

Associated Press
It's the golden age of Washington, where the 5.0 unemployment rate stands in contrast to the 7.6 national average, and the local economy is growing faster than the nation as a whole.

According to the Census Bureau's Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates for 2011, six of the top 10 richest counties in the United States surround Washington, D.C. A look at the top 30 shows 13 of the richest counties fall in that area as well, while counties in Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and other states are also represented.

"The fed's tentacles do spread beyond Washington," an April 25 Forbes article said. "New Mexico's Los Alamos County, home to the National Laboratory with a $2.2 billion budget, places No. 3 on the list with a median household income of $110,000. Wall Street and the rest of New York City's economy aren't left out altogether. Two commuting counties in New Jersey, Hunterdon and Somerset, come in at No. 5 and No. 9, respectively."

While The Wall Street Journal calls Washington's hold on wealth "a product of Washington's Gilded Age," it also argues that the region's economic resilience is due to an economy that is broadening beyond government spending.

"More than a generation of heavy federal spending, it turns out, has provided the seed money for a Washington economy that now operates globally — less tied to the vicissitudes of the capital's political rhythms," reporter Elizabeth Williamson wrote. "The new moneyed brain trust is being led by professionals in defense, intelligence and data — many of whom excelled initially due to government ties. They've propelled the D.C. region as a leader in the cybersecurity and data sectors, as well as in more specialized areas including educational products and heath care data management."

Here's a look at the top 30 richest counties in the United States.

>> Elvin Hernandez, 22, with Cobourn & Clay Builders, installs windows in a house under construction in the Beacon Hill development in Leesburg, Va., Thursday Jan. 4, 2007.
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Saint Louis, MO

Four of the counties are in New Jersey. Is that a surprise or what? So, maybe Chris Christie has some money behind him after all. However, he is just ahead of the posse. Corey Booker is saddling his horse and will be the next U.S. Senator from New Jersey. What this does to the ambitions of Christie and the influence of the four rich counties remains to be seen.

Riverton Cougar
Riverton, UT

But I thought it was Republicans were the super rich!

Here's one of the most widely believed myths: the Republicans are the party of the rich while the Democrats are the party of the poor.

A well-kept secret is that most of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the nation are Democrats!

Payson, UT

It isn't that the rich are mostly repubs or demos. It's the hypocrisy in the democrats position that they are the party of the poor,the under-served and the minorities because repubs are all rich white guys.

All politicians are windbags, full of lies. It's just that the democrats are better in their delivery. Mostly because they can make so many people feel they deserve something they never earned.

Just be careful about the lies coming from the repubs as well. You'll end up being the same kind of useful idiot that you probably think the average liberal is.

Harrison Lapahie
Shiprock, NM

I'm surprise to find New Mexico has a county that is the 3rd richest county in the United States! I better start looking for a job there as an Electrical Engineer, my major, because I live in Shiprock, about a 3 hour drive to Los Alamos, and Shiprock has no technical jobs!

Filo Doughboy
Bakersfield, CA

Well said, wookie! Wish I'd said it.

I'm a registered Independent for a reason: Beholdin' to no party label, labor, or coercion.

And I haven't found a liberal smart enough or honest enough to admit why D.C. and surrounding base is so lucrative and flush with cash...our tax base donations.

West Valley City, UT

it looks like a lot of those counties are the blue parts of red states, or just plain blue states. How can they afford to pay higher wages then the strictly red states or counties?

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