Top Metro Areas by High-Income Household Density Found Mainly on the Coasts

February 14, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Household Income | Local & Directories / Small Biz

CensusBureau-Metro-Areas-High-Income-Household-Density-Feb2013The Census Bureau has released an American Community Survey brief [pdf] relating to the geographic spread of high-income households (those in the top 5% of income nationwide, or an annual household income of at least $191,469) during the 5-year period from 2007-2011. The study breaks down the top 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with the highest concentration of such households, revealing that a large proportion of these MSAs are on the coasts, in particular within the New England, Middle Atlantic, and Pacific divisions. The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut MSA tops the list, with 17.9% of its households among the top 5% in the US. Following that MSA in the top 5 are:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA (15.9%);
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV (14.1%);
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA (13%); and
  • Trenton-Ewing, NJ (11.6%).

The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island (NY-NJ-PA) MSA (the largest in the US by population) just misses the top 5, with 10% of its households in the top 5% by household income. On the other end of the scale, Danville, IL and Danville, VA rank as the MSAs with the smallest proportion of high-income households, at just 1.1% each. A 2012 report from Nielsen found that “Mass Affluents” are concentrated less in old-money areas and the Sunbelt, and more in and around coastal metropolises. Nielsen defines Mass Affluents as having income-producing assets (IPAs) of between $250,000 and $1 million (excluding real estate). Those assets include, among others, stocks, 401(k)s and money market savings.

Other Findings:

  • The top 50 MSAs by population size (of 366 in total) accounted for 52% of all US households, but an outsized 72% of high-income households, per the Census Bureau data.
  • Within metropolitan areas, 6.1% of households in the suburbs were in the top 5%, compared to 4.9% in central cities.

About the Data: A full description of the Census Bureau’s methodology can be found in its brief (see link above).


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