Wealth gap: 106.91%
Albemarle avg. annual income: $92,414
Buckingham avg. annual income: $44,663
In central Virginia, the country’s ninth-largest wealth gap is on the border of Albemarle and Buckingham counties, at 106.91 percent. Located as an enclave within Albemarle County is the independent city of Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia and former home of two U.S. presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Although associated with Charlottesville, Jefferson’s landmark Monticello estate is technically in Albemarle County. According to the county, the area is desirable due to its “excellent school system, low taxes, skilled and educated workforce and a wealth of cultural, historic and recreational amenities in a beautiful setting.” The county has also implemented an “Economic Vitality Action Plan” to build on its relative wealth, while median household incomes stand at $64,847, suggesting a disproportionate number of wealthy individuals.
Buckingham County, on the other hand, has been relatively less fortunate than its northern neighbor. The county’s average annual income stands at $44,663 with a mean of $34,720, according to the Census Bureau. In Buckingham County, 43.3 percent of residents are reported to draw income from Social Security, while that number drops to 26.1 percent in Albemarle. Income drawn from investments is also disparate between the two counties, with 39.5 percent of residents in Albemarle reporting this type of income, versus 15.4 percent in Buckingham.
However, although Buckingham is actively looking to expand economically through tax policy and fiscal responsibility, county administrator Rebecca S. Carter said that “preserving the desired rural characteristics of the county” was also among the government’s priorities. Generally, a focus on rural lifestyle and activities brings with it a lower income base, as seen in Buckingham.