The Highest and Lowest Incomes for America’s City Slickers
All throughout history, people have gone to cities to take advantage of the wealth and business. We wanted to know which metropolitan areas offered the best opportunities for Americans, so we looked at data for all 382 metros.
Want to know where to make the most money? Check out this map!
This map shows the median household income of metropolitan populations. Measuring the median makes it a good standard for “normal people.”
High Incomes in the Usual Places
The green spots on this map indicate areas with the highest median household income, and they often appear in predictable places. San Francisco. Washington DC. The Northeast.
As we’ve established with other visualizations (like this one), certain regional economies just have more money in them. That means higher incomes.
Of course, other areas have high median incomes too. The Pacific Northwest has pockets of wealth, as do Hawaii and Alaska. Denver, Salt Lake City, and the Twin Cities also support respectable incomes.
Top 5 Highest Median Household Incomes in America
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (CA) | $110,040
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (CA) | $96,677
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (VA) | $95,843
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (CT) | $90,123
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton (MA) | $82,380
The Low-Income South
The Industrial Revolution created a major economic division between the northern and southern states. While the South stayed agrarian, the North adopted a booming manufacturing economy.
That division remains.
A quick glance at the map reveals consistently low incomes across the entire South. Households in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi are in particularly bad shape. These states don’t have a single metro area with median household income over $59,000 per year. They haven’t recovered from the Great Recession either, which probably doesn’t help matters.
If you’re looking to leave rural America for a prosperous life in the city, avoid southern Texas. Down there, you’ll find a cluster of metro areas with teeny, tiny median household incomes.
Bottom 5 Highest Median Household Incomes in America
- Laredo (TX) | $35,659
- McAllen-Edinburg-Mission (TX)| $36,176
- Grants Pass (OR) | $36,472
- Sebring (FL) | $36,490
- Brownsville-Harlingen (TX) | $37,061
Three of them are found on Texas’ southern tip.
Fortune seekers with their heart set on Texas should stick to the big cities. They would have much better chances of securing higher incomes in the Austin-Round Rock ($71,000), Midland ($65,224), or Dallas-Fort Worth ($63,812) metro areas.
A Silver Lining
Although we all want a higher income, it’s important to remember this: income and cost of living go hand in hand. As your income rises, so do expenses. That means a high income can have low spending power while a low income doesn’t always prevent you from buying a home or saving money.
How much spending power does your income have? Try the True Cost of Living Tool to find out.
Data: Table 1.1