America’s 100 Richest Places

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The richest communities in America for years have been in Silicon Valley and the New York City area. Now the Midwest is starting to make some noise

 

That’s one takeaway from the latest Bloomberg analysis of 2016 U.S. Census data.

For the second year since Bloomberg started to compile the Richest 100, the nation’s top spot is Atherton, California. The town of six square miles is near Palo Alto, Stanford University and Menlo Park, the home of Facebook and other tech ventures. Atherton’s average household income was $443,403 in 2016, more than $50,000 higher than second-place Cherry Hills Village, Colorado.

Newcomers to the list include three areas in suburban Chicago. The average in Clarendon Hills, Illinois, about 25 miles west of downtown Chicago, jumped 15 percent in 2016 from the prior year to break into the top 100 for the first time with a tally of $199,325.

An average household income closer to $200,000 is now required to break into the top 100 compared with about $190,000 in last year’s Bloomberg analysis.

Three other western Chicago suburbs made the top 100: Burr Ridge, Oak Brook and Hinsdale. All four showed gains in household earnings from 4 percent to 15 percent from the prior year.

Cities and towns in the tri-state area of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York accounted for 36 of the 100 top spots, the most concentrated area of wealth of any region.

Twenty-one of the cities were in California, with the majority in the San Francisco Bay area. Other states with five or more locations included Texas, Maryland and Illinois.

Outside of Washington, South Kensington, Maryland, landed among the top 100 wealthiest in the 98th spot.

Among the largest movers on the list was Highland Park, Texas, which moved up to No. 9 from 14th the previous year as a zero state income tax and relatively low overall tax burden made it more attractive. The bucolic town of Los Altos Hills, California, climbed three spots to No. 4. Los Altos Hills is home to numerous tech billionaires including Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner.

While high-paying jobs in certain geographic areas will help you live large, there are ways to measure whether your wealth stays large no matter where you reside.

Bloomberg also ranked cities by earnings from interest, dividends, rents, and royalties, as well as distributions from estates and trusts—a subset of household income called passive income. Destinations popular for affluent retirees were plentiful on this list, which was led by Atherton, California, with an average of $170,611 in passive income.

Palm Beach, Florida—home of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club—ranked second.

Another way we looked at the data was to measure income disparity in each location.

Residents of Darnestown, Maryland, are most likely to sport similar paychecks, according to Bloomberg’s calculation of the Gini Index—a common measure of income distribution among a population. The rural community northwest of Washington sits along the Potomac River and is home to Bretton Woods Recreation Center, a country club for International Monetary Fund and World Bank staff. Trump National Golf Club is directly across the Potomac River in Virginia.

Darnestown’s Gini coefficient is 0.37, the lowest of all 100 places. Its average household income of $219,654 paired with a low Gini indicates the majority of households are similarly well-off.

The prize for the highest Gini on our list goes to Greenwich, Connecticut, with its 0.65 reading, suggesting a much higher proportion of its residents’ wealth were in the hands of far fewer households.

 

by Shelly Hagan and Wei Lu – bloomberg.com

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