Mapping The Highest And Lowest Incomes Of 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? The following map from shows just where...


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.



junction MonetaryApostate Thu, 11/23/2017 - 21:59 Permalink

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Talking about cities, let's talk about New York City' rich people. Amanda Burden, Charlie Rose’s girlfriend, ran the City Planning Commission under NYC Mayor Bloomberg for 12 years, where she up zoned everything and made a mockery of the city’s zoning ordinances. Bloomberg and his real estate developer friends made billions off Amanda’s up zoning decisions, where she often overruled local planning boards to shoebox in one more mid-block 50 story building.  To show you how crooked the New York City press is, notice the total silence concerning Carter Burden, who was at one time married to Amanda Burden.  Carter Burden’s career in politics flamed out after he ran for New York City Council President in 1978 and lost, even with the New York Times being part of his cheering section.  Back then, Burden reputation of running around with teeny boppers didn’t hurt him.  The thieves around Mayor Ed Koch joked in 1977 that there was a movie out about Burden, “Close Encounters Of The Third Grade.”  Sexual perverts back then and now were okay as long as they were part of the ruling class.   

In reply to by MonetaryApostate

Kefeer Gap Admirer Thu, 11/23/2017 - 22:17 Permalink

Affirmative action is entrenched within the federal government; it is a welfare state where no less than 1/3 of the employees literally create more work for the top 1/3 to do, the middle 1/3 do enough to "break even" (pick any agency).  You could literally fire a third of the Federal workforce and have a more efficient workforce.

In reply to by Gap Admirer

IPlayNaked Thu, 11/23/2017 - 22:02 Permalink

But everything is dirt cheap in southern Texas... compare to up here in Toronto. I went down there and I see that on 40k salary you can live much better than in Toronto for 55-60k.

Lost in translation Fri, 11/24/2017 - 00:48 Permalink

Cities are useless, worthless drags on the production of a nation.

All they EVER do is eat, drink, consume, poop, piss, make (way too many) babies, and generate mountains of trash.

Cities quite literally devour a nation’s wealth and abundance, and offer only intellectual (as well as literal) excrement, in return.

To wit: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, St. Louis, Miami...

SilvaDolla Fri, 11/24/2017 - 00:50 Permalink

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to make the ‘median’ income of $40-$49k like this chart says.

What I wouldn’t give to be spat at in the face by the Romans.

I have a vewey gwate fwiend in Wome named ‘Biggus Dickus’!

He has a wife you know....

moonmac Fri, 11/24/2017 - 06:07 Permalink

Homelessness in America not seen since the Great Depression. Another reason for us to be thankful our asset values have risen.Rally On!

JibjeResearch Fri, 11/24/2017 - 09:34 Permalink

The image proves that it's not about your liberal/conservative bullshit.  It's about business libertarian.If you have a business that buy low and sell high, you will be rich.So STFU and start farming raccoon, possim, dog, horse, and asian carps.Let the market decides.