Funny Business with Jane Wells

California Is Loaded

California Flag
Photo by: scazon

California is a place of extremes.

It is the state with the biggest deficit and the greatest wealth.

In a new survey from, seven of the top ten "wealth centers" in the country are in the Golden State.

The survey combines several measurements from the Census Bureau, including per capital income, median income, the percentage of incomes over $200,000, and home prices.

Newport Beach, California, ranks #1, with a median income of $124,000. Twenty-nine percent of residents in this Orange County enclave haul in at least $200,000 a year, and the median home price is $1,000,001.

Coming in second is Newton, Massachusetts, outside Boston. Newton actually trails third-placed Pleasanton, California in all the big ticket categories except one: per capita income, which comes in at $56,000. Meantime, Newton's median income is $104,000, and 22 percent of its residents earn more than $200,000.

Here are the top ten wealth centers along with the percentage of residents earning more than $200,000:

  1. Newport Beach, CA--29 percent
  2. Newton, MA--23 percent
  3. Pleasanton, CA--24 percent
  4. Arlington, VA--16 percent
  5. Santa Monica, CA--14 percent
  6. Mountain View, CA--14 percent
  7. Thousand Oaks, CA (my town!) --14 percent
  8. San Francisco, CA--14 percent
  9. Sandy Springs, GA--18 percent
  10. Sunnyvale, CA--14 percent

What's interesting is that the wealth centers in hard-hit California are spread up and down the coast. Four are in the bay area, three are in Southern California. In a state that's broke, this list highlights the public's reliance on these magnets of wealth. A small group of highly-paid residents provide the lion's share of taxes. has also released the cities where you are least likely to find wealthy residents. Not one of them is in the states most affected by the real estate bust: California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. Instead, coming in first, is Reading, PA. It's per capita income is $14,000, which is about half the national average. It's median income is $28,100, and not a single resident earns more than $200,000. Incomes in Camden, New Jersey and Brownsville, Texas are actually even lower, but both of those cities have at least some people earning over $200,000. They also have higher home values.

Here's the list of the lowest scoring wealth centers, along with the percentage of residents earning more than $200,000:

  1. Reading, PA--0 percent
  2. Camden, NJ--0.3 percent
  3. Flint, MI--0 percent
  4. Brownsville, TX--0.7 percent
  5. Gary, IN--0.4 percent
  6. Detroit, MI--0.6 percent
  7. Cleveland, OH--0.7 percent
  8. Dayton, OH--0.5 percent
  9. Erie, PA--0.5 percent
  10. Rochester, NY--0.8 percent

Here's a full list of the citiesso you can compare, and here is an interactive map.

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