America's 20 Highest Earning Cities

Wondering where you earn the highest incomes? Richard Florida and his team have put together the definitive list—from D.C. to Fairbanks.

1. Washington, DC

Household Income: $85, 824
Median Income: $41,024

No surprise that Washington, D.C. with its lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians comes out on top as the city with the highest income earners in America. It’s been ranked as the best city for lawyers, the fourth-best city to earn a living, and its teachers are the highest paid in the nation. Although there is a high median income, CNN’s Money ranked the city as the fifth-highest in job listings over $100,000, which suggests the city could have a large income disparity.

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2. Stamford, CT

Household Income: $84,545
Median Income: $36,650

Companies in the 1980s fled New York City for Stamford in search of lower taxes and to be closer to the executives’ families and as a result, Stamford is the home of several Fortune 500 companies, including Thomson Corporation, World Wrestling Entertainment, Time Warner Cable, and UBS. In 2006, the Royal Bank of Scotland announced it would concentrate its North American headquarters into Stamford and build the largest trading floor in North America, a record currently held by the UBS building in Stamford. The high-rollers are not the only high earners in the city: the police captain is reportedly the highest-earner in city government several years in a row, netting over $276,000 in 2008.

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3. San Jose

Household Income: $88,098
Median Income: $37,469

San Jose helped build the tech industry into what it is today, and the city is the headquarters of giants such as Adobe Systems, Cisco, and eBay and has major branches of Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Hitachi. In 2002, San Jose was named as one of the nation’s most affluent cities, but there’s been a backlash: in 2008, San Jose was also named by Forbes as the nation’s greediest city.

4. San Francisco

Household Income: $76,848
Median Income: $36,078

The Bay Area is well known as the home of the Internet industry, and 11 of the Forbes Top 100 richest Americans live in San Francisco. But it has an equally strong history of being a financial center. Wells Fargo built its banking empire in San Francisco in 1852, and downtown Montgomery Street has been nicknamed the "Wall Street of the West." The city also has a robust biotechnology and biomedical hub, and employs 1,800 biochemists and biophysicists with an annual median wage of $92,620.

5. Boston

Household Income: $71,361
Median Income: $32,798

Boston has long been famous for its academics, and although academia may not be known as the highest-paid profession, it has served the city well. In 2004-05, six area university presidents brought in more than $500,000, and the fourth highest-paid lawyer in the U.S. is in Boston. The city is also home to specialized industries such as technology, medical research, and finance.

6. Trenton-Ewing, NJ

Household Income: $73,800
Median Income: $32,311

Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey, has a cost of living 27.4 percent higher than the national average, but the city has an unemployment rate lower than the national average. While the city of Trenton has not necessarily fared well financially, neighboring Ewing has become a home to the biotech boom. Trenton-Ewing ranks ninth on the number of most millionaires in the country, and its close proximity to both New York and Philadelphia make it an easy commute.

7. Anchorage, AK

Household Income: $75,035
Median Income: $32,479

Anchorage has long had its roots in federally funded industries and in the oil industry, both of which have brought high incomes to the city. The city acts as the administration for the Alaska oil industry, which accounts for 8 percent of all wages in the city. Although Anchorage has 42 percent of Alaska’s population, it employs 47 percent of the state. In the less-lucrative job market, Alaska also has one of the highest minimum wages at $7.75.

8. Seattle

Household Income: $66,465
Median Income: $34,293

Ranked as the " smartest city" in the U.S. with 47 percent of all residents having a bachelor’s degree, and 17 percent have master’s degrees. These statistics have everything to do with Seattle’s high income ranking. A worker with a master’s degree earns on average 45 percent more than one with a bachelor’s degree, and 167 percent more than one with a high school diploma. Seattle also can boast of retaining its tight housing market, despite the recession, meaning that the residents have maintained their wealth.

9. Norwich-New London, CT

Household Income: $68,622
Median Income: $34,536

The gambling industry has made Norwich-New London a great place to live: Foxwoods Resort and Casino brought $3 billion to Connecticut’s economy since opening, although the recession has been decreasing the amount the casino has paid out to the state. While the area saw high job losses in early 2010, the health and education industry grew by 1 percent, suggesting a possible turnaround for the area.

10. Hartford, CT

Household Income: $67,171
Median Income: $32,276

Mark Twain once said of Hartford “of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief.” In the 19th century, Hartford was the most affluent city in the country, with strong industries such as manufacturing and communications. Although its status has declined since then, the growth of the insurance industry—integral to Hartford—has kept up the income level in the city. In the early part of the decade, the city saw a boom in downtown growth, and mayor Eddie Perez has been billed as “New England’s Rising Star” for his work in rebuilding the city.

11. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Household Income: $65,862
Median Income: $33,638

Minneapolis made the cut as the “most literate” city in 2004, and sister-city St. Paul ranked in at 16th. High levels of literacy can be indicators of affluence, and study researcher Jack Miller said the twin cities are evolving in a way that’s good for the country. The twin cities are also ranked high as a travel destination. In terms of industry, the city has high levels of wifi, transportation options, university research and advanced degrees in the workforce, and was ranked one of the “smartest cities” to live in.

12. Boulder, CO

Household Income: $66,463
Median Income: $31,270

The research and technology industries have helped make Boulder one of the most affluent cities, also bringing jobs into other industries. The wealth of the city has an upside: a Gallup Poll found Boulder to be the happiest and healthiest city in the country in 2009.

13. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA

Household Income: $76,860
Median Income: $31,184

In the greater Los Angeles area, Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA has an average housing price of $290,600, and the city has one of the highest median housing cost. Often referred to as the “Gold Coast,” it is generally considered one of the safest areas of the region. The area boasts a large tech industry, as well as high numbers of retail jobs.

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14. Manchester-Nashua, NH

Household Income: $69,223
Median Income: $32,254

Once the center of the mill industry, Manchester-Nashua, NH, had been on the decline for a good portion of the 20th century. But the city has started to move more into the high-tech industry, and the state’s libertarian attitude toward income taxes has also helped. Kiplinger ranked the area as the second-best tax-friendly city, since the state and local tax burden only account for 3 percent of income.

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15. Baltimore, MD

Household Income: $66,122
Median Income: $32,371

Baltimore’s steep decline has long been documented, but the city has been bringing back some of its old style. The city is home to John Hopkins University, one of the major biotechnology hubs in the country, as well as the University Hospital at the University of Maryland. The city also has a strong retail and tourism industry, helping bring some of the higher incomes back to the area.

16. New York

Household Income: $64,747
Median Income: $31,382

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17. Rochester, MN

Household Income: $63, 842
Median Income: $32,437

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18. Worcester, MA

Household Income: $66,878
Median Income: $31,402

19. Fairbanks, AK

Household Income: $69,103
Median Income: $31,475

20. Honolulu, HI

Household Income: $70,951
Median Income: $30,806