DC Highest Earning Metro Area in America

The Washington DC area has the nation's highest incomes.

The Washington DC area has the nation’s highest incomes, Richard Florida reports.

According to a new Regional Income Earnings Index developed by the Martin Prosperity Institute, Greater Washington, D.C. is the nation’s metropolitan region with the highest income. The index measures income trends across all 342 of America’s metro regions.

San Jose (in California’s Silicon Valley) and Stamford, Connecticut, tie for second place. San Francisco and Boston round out the top five. Surprisingly, Greater New York ranks 16th on the MPI Affluence Index, behind Seattle, Boulder, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Greater Baltimore. Two Alaska regions score in the top 20—Anchorage in seventh place and Fairbanks in 19th. Massachusetts and Minnesota each have two regions in the top 20 as well.

High-income regions tend to have populations that are highly educated and skilled—what economists refer to as higher levels of human capital. Regions with more knowledge-based, professional, and creative jobs have higher incomes on average, as do regions with high concentrations of high-tech industries

All of that is true of DC.  But there is, of course, one additional factor that sets it apart from the others: it also happens to be the seat of government and thus a magnet for rent-seeking behavior.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. john personna says:


    The article’s subhed tells you all you need to know: “Why Lobbying Is Washington’s Best Bargain; Lobbyists say for just a few million, they can make clients billions:”

    “Lobbyists [are] the best bargain in Washington. Capitol Tax Partners, for example, is one of 1,900 firms that house more than 11,000 lobbyists registered to operate in Washington. Last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), firms like Capitol Tax were paid a total of $3.49 billion for unraveling the mysteries of the tax code for a variety of businesses. According to Capitol Tax co-founder Lindsay Hooper, his firm provided “input and technical advice on various tax matters” to such clients as Morgan Stanley, 3M, Goldman Sachs, Chanel, Ford and the Private Equity Council, which is a trade group trying to head off a plan to increase taxes on what’s called carried interest, a form of income enjoyed by the heavy hitters who run venture-capital and other types of private-equity funds.”


  2. JKB says:

    Ah, I remember it well. Back in 1999, when I was first stationed in DC, the WP and other media were rife with stories about how “those people”, the tech guys from the Dulles corridor, or should dare I say, capitalists, were interjecting themselves into the local social scene. Their money crowding out the bureaucrats. This was a crisis for the annoying class.

    But here we are, 10 year later, the capitalists, of the DC region at least, broken. The bureaucrats have marched onward to wealth on the backs of the taxpayer. And I understand that much of the DC “wealth” is the former productive class setting up shop to seek the favor of the mandarins. Still the only “creative” thing to come out of DC is new and innovative ways to separate the taxpayer from his money. Such ideas are not, however, ways to build the wealth of a nation.