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Inside Wealth

America's 10 Richest Counties

America's 10 Richest Counties

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Just as counties are made up of more than towns and cities, the income of county residents depends on more than the local businesses. What follows are the 10 richest counties in America, according to the Average Income by County report from the Census Bureau, which includes the average annual household income from 2006-2010. These counties don’t just contain Fortune 500 business headquarters (though some of them do), and it’s not just the acres of upscale retail that at least one county has that
George Rose | Getty Images

Just as counties are made up of more than towns and cities, the income of county residents depends on more than the local businesses. What follows are the 10 richest counties in America, according to the Average Income by County report from the Census Bureau, which includes the average annual household income from 2006-2010.

These counties don’t just contain Fortune 500 business headquarters (though some of them do), and they're not just appealing vacation destinations (although two are) and it’s not just the acres of upscale retail that at least one county has that’s providing all the jobs and high incomes. In many of the following cases, the high income of a county is directly tied to the nearest commutable city.  Although the workplace is becoming ever more virtual and working remotely has never been more possible, commuting to major metropolitan centers is clearly still a factor driving local economies.

By Colleen KanePosted 26 April 2012

10. Westchester County,  N.Y.

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Average income: $128,127America’s first major suburb, located north of New York City, is still the home base for many commuters to Manhattan. The biggest city within the county is Yonkers, the fourth-largest city by population in New York state. Westchester is often cited as an example of where “old money” resides. One display of that is the Gothic Revival mansion, , in Tarrytown. It was once owned by former owner railroad tycoon Jay Gould, who used it as his country house.
Image of Wykagyl Country Club: Getty Images

Average income: $128,127

America’s first major suburb, located north of New York City, is still the home base for many commuters to Manhattan. The biggest city within the county is Yonkers, the fourth-largest city by population in New York state. Westchester is often cited as an example of where “old money” resides. One display of that is the Gothic Revival mansion Lyndhurst, in Tarrytown. It was once owned by former owner railroad tycoon Jay Gould, who used it as his country house.

9. Morris County, N.J.

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Average income: $128,371Morris County, located about 25 miles from New York City, is another county within easy commuting distance to Manhattan. It includes Harding Township (tk pictured at left), once named one of the in the U.S. by Forbes. Morris County has numerous Revolutionary war-era historic sites, such as Washington’s Headquarters and Jockey Hollow, where the Continental army endured the brutal winter of 1779-80. The county’s unemployment rate for 2011 was 7.3, nearly 3 points lower than
Steven Reynolds | Flickr

Average income: $128,371

Morris County, located about 25 miles from New York City, is another county within easy commuting distance to Manhattan. It includes Harding Township once named one of the richest zip codes in the U.S. by Forbes.

Morris County has numerous Revolutionary war-era historic sites, such as Washington’s Headquarters and Jockey Hollow, where the Continental army endured the brutal winter of 1779-80. The county’s unemployment rate for 2011 was 7.3, nearly 3 points lower than the state average of 10 percent according to the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

8. Marin County, Calif.

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Average income: $128,544Located just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County’s top employers are Kaiser Permanente, Marin General Hospital and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. Marin is the home of George Lucas’ creative workplace and retreat, Skywalker Ranch, as well as tech companies such as Autodesk. It’s also home of such celebrated natural destinations as Muir Woods and Stinson Beach.
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Average income: $128,544

Located just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County’s top employers are Kaiser Permanente, Marin General Hospital and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. Marin is the home of George Lucas’ creative workplace and retreat, Skywalker Ranch, as well as tech companies such as Autodesk. It’s also home of such celebrated natural destinations as Muir Woods and Stinson Beach.

7. Somerset County, N.J.

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Average income: $129,222
Steve Hockstein | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Average income: $129,222

Somerset County is another wealthy location in the New York metropolitan area. Area companies include Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Pfizer and UPS. Somerset includes the picturesque hilly town of Bernardsville, location of the former estates of Jackie Onassis, Mike Tyson and Malcolm Forbes.

6. Fairfield County, Conn.

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Average income: $130,074The coastal county of Fairfield is the most affluent county in one of the country’s most affluent states. It contains the state’s most populous city, Bridgeport, and wealthy towns like Darien, Greenwich, Westport and New Canaan. Lower Fairfield is known as the Gold Coast, and it is another favorite location for the “old money” elite. Businesses in Fairfield include Duracell, Subway and WWE. The county is the current or former home to many rich and famous personalities suc
Dave Shafer | Flickr

Average income: $130,074

The coastal county of Fairfield is the most affluent county in one of the country’s most affluent states. It contains the state’s most populous city, Bridgeport, and wealthy towns like Darien, Greenwich, Westport and New Canaan. Lower Fairfield is known as the Gold Coast, and it is another favorite location for the “old money” elite. Businesses in Fairfield include Duracell, Subway and WWE. The county is the current or former home to many rich and famous personalities such as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Ron Howard, and Diana Ross.

5. Hunterdon County, N.J.

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Average income: $130,723Hunterdon County is located in the northwestern part of New Jersey between this list’s No. 9 county, Morris, to the northeast, and No. 7, Somerset County, to the east. It’s more rural than its Central Jersey neighbors and is a destination for fishing and hunting white tail deer. In Hunterdon, commuters are split between New York City and Philadelphia.
Keith J. Shipman | Flickr

Average income: $130,723

Hunterdon County is located in the northwestern part of New Jersey between this list’s No. 9 county, Morris, to the northeast, and No. 7, Somerset County, to the east. It’s more rural than its Central Jersey neighbors and is a destination for fishing and hunting white tail deer. In Hunterdon, commuters are split between New York City and Philadelphia.

4. Fairfax County, Va.

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Average income: $132,662Fairfax is a bedroom community to Washington, D.C., as well as home to the CIA, and companies such as Volkswagen, Capital One and Sallie Mae.  In addition, the county has three large malls in the unincorporated census-designated place of Tysons Corner: Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Galleria and Fairfax Square. Tysons Corner was the 12-largest employment center in the country in 2008, the New York Times . 
Image of Gunston Hall (George Mason’s plantation): Jay Cross | Flickr

Average income: $132,662

Fairfax is a bedroom community to Washington, D.C., as well as home to the CIA such companies as Volkswagen, Capital One and Sallie Mae.  In addition, the county has three large malls in the unincorporated census-designated place of Tysons Corner: Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Galleria and Fairfax Square. Tysons Corner was the 12th-largest employment center in the country in 2008, the New York Times reported

3. Loudoun County, Va.

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Average income: $134,098Historic Loudoun County, another suburb of Washington, D.C., is the neighbor to this list’s No. 4 county, Fairfax. However, in another 2010 from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Loudoun County was the highest-income county in the U.S. for 2010 (with Fairfax still coming in at No. 4 on that ranking). Loudoun is the site of numerous vineyards and the headquarters for Verizon Business, Telos Corporation, MCI and others.
Douglas Graham | Roll Call | Getty Images

Average income: $134,098

Historic Loudoun County, another suburb of Washington, D.C., is the neighbor to this list’s No. 4 county, Fairfax. However, in another 2010 ranking from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Loudoun County was the highest-income county in the U.S. for 2010 (with Fairfax still coming in at No. 4 on that ranking). Loudoun is the site of numerous vineyards and the headquarters for Verizon Business, Telos Corporation, MCI and others.

2. Pitkin County, Colo.

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Average income: $134,267Pitkin County – a mountainous area in the center of  Colorado with fewer than 20,000 residents -- might not ring a bell. But considering that Pitkin’s county seat is the upscale ski resort city of Aspen, it all makes sense that this is the No. 2 wealthiest county in the U.S. The many luxury ski chalets of Aspen earned it the distinction of being the real estate market in America ,with average home prices at $6 million in 2010.
Mark Donoher | Flickr

Average income: $134,267

Pitkin County — a mountainous area in the center of  Colorado with fewer than 20,000 residents — might not ring a bell. But considering that Pitkin’s county seat is the upscale ski resort city of Aspen, it all makes sense that this is the No. 2 wealthiest county in the U.S. The many luxury ski chalets of Aspen earned it the distinction of being the most expensive real estate market in America, with average home prices at $6 million in 2010.

1. Nantucket County, Mass.

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Average income: $137,811Let’s just say if all the old men in Nantucket kept all their cash in a bucket, they would need a lot of buckets. The island of Nantucket (along with the two smaller islands making up Nantucket County), located south of Cape Cod off the coast of Massachusetts, is an upscale vacation destination and summer colony. The entire island is an historic district, with many pre-Civil war structures, as well as a cobblestone Main Street and the oldest functioning windmill in the co
Tom Herde | The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Average income: $137,811

Let’s just say if all the old men in Nantucket kept all their cash in a bucket, they would need a lot of buckets. The island of Nantucket (along with the two smaller islands making up Nantucket County), located south of Cape Cod off the coast of Massachusetts, is an upscale vacation destination and summer colony. The entire island is an historic district, with many pre-Civil War structures as well as a cobblestone Main Street and the oldest functioning windmill in the country. Tommy Hilfiger, John Kerry and Teresa Heinz, and Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara all have summer homes on Nantucket.