Who says being a government employee doesn’t pay off? Northern Virginia is the hot residential area for those who choose to work for government and it should be no surprise that it is among the most affluent areas in the country. So much for “public servant.” We are not too far away from having “fiefdoms” with large and opulent areas for the rulers and struggles for those living outside that area.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that five of the counties or county-equivalents nationwide with the highest median household income in 2012 were located in Northern Virginia. Among them were Arlington County, at $99,255, Fairfax County, at $106,690, Falls Church (an independent city), at $121,250, Loudoun County, at $118,934, and Stafford County, at $95,927. Falls Church and Loudoun also had among the lowest poverty rates in the country.
The data are from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program, which provides the only current, single-year income and poverty statistics for all sizes of counties and school districts ─ roughly 3,140 counties and nearly 14,000 school districts nationally.
“Metropolitan counties along the East Coast continued to have the highest median household income and lowest poverty in the country,” said Lucinda Dalzell, chief of the Census Bureau’s Small Areas Estimates Branch. “These counties are located in large metro areas, such as Boston and New York, and are heavily concentrated in the Northern Virginia portion of the Washington area; Northern Virginia alone accounted for about one-fifth of the nation’s 50 highest-income counties.”
The findings also show that median household income is higher in nearly half of the counties in the Dakotas now than it was before the recession began in 2007. Between 2007 and 2012, 55 of the 119 counties in North and South Dakota experienced a statistically significant increase in median household income. In contrast, of the remaining 3,023 counties or equivalents nationwide, the same was true of only 56 of them. Of all the U.S. counties with a statistically significant change in income relative to 2007, 89 percent experienced a decline.
Among the counties with school-age child poverty rates significantly higher than the national average of 21.1 percent in 2012, 75 percent were in the South. In 2012, there were 13,544 school districts. Of these, 14.7 percent had poverty rates greater than 30 percent, for the population of school-age children in families.
The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program provides the number of people in poverty, the number of children younger than 5 in poverty (for states only), the number of children 5 to 17 in families in poverty, the number of children younger than 18 in poverty and median household income. School district estimates are available for the total population, the number of children 5 to 17 and the number of children 5 to 17 in families in poverty.
Background on the program
This release includes publication of the 2012 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Highlights Document, which presents income and poverty trends and explains the sources and approach. Also available is an interactive data and mapping tool, allowing access to statistics for every county and school district by selecting the geographic area for display, as well as thematic maps for all concepts available for 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009. More information can be obtained from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates main page.
The income and poverty estimates combine the latest American Community Survey data with aggregate data from federal tax information, administrative records on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation, 2000 Census and 2010 Census statistics, and annual population estimates.
As sponsor, the U.S. Department of Education uses these data to allocate an estimated $22.8 billion in fiscal year 2013 Title I and related program funds to school districts for the current school year. In addition, state and local programs use these statistics for distributing funds and managing school programs.
It would not be possible to produce the small area income and poverty estimates without the American Community Survey, which is a major component. Next week, the Census Bureau plans to release the five-year American Community Survey statistics, a compilation of data covering 2008-2012. This data set, which includes numerous tables on income and poverty, will provide statistics for all areas regardless of population size, down to the block group.