U.S. Department o Commerce
Economics and Statistics Administration
U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
The Geographic Concentration of High-IncomeHouseholds: 2007–2011
American Community Survey Briefs
Issued February 2013
By Charles Adam BeeTwo questions present themselves when consideringthe geographic concentration o high-income house-holds. First, where do most high-income householdslive? Second, where are the highest concentrations o high-income households? This brie answers the rstquestion by estimating the number o high-incomehouseholds in each area. This brie answers the secondquestion by presenting estimates o the proportionso households that are among the top 5 percent.This brie is based on data rom the AmericanCommunity Survey pooled across surveyyears 2007 through 2011, reerring to incomereceived rom January 2006 to November 2011.
During this period, the top 5 percent o house-holds received at least $191,469 per year.
Figure 1 depicts the number o high-income house-holds in each county, while Figure 2 maps thenumber o all households in each county. Thesegures illustrate that, like the general popula-tion, most high-income households lived in high-population counties, especially along the coasts.
We are interested not only in where most high-incomehouseholds lived, but also in which places had thehighest concentrations o high-income households.Figure 3 illustrates the proportion o householdswithin each county that were among the top 5
All income data are adjusted or ination to 2011 dollars.
Source: 2007–2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Esti-mates, Base Table B19080: Household Income Quintile Upper Limits.
The correlation between the number o high-income householdsin each county and the number o other households was 0.88.
percent o U.S. households with respect to income.This map highlights how the geographic distribu-tion o high-income households difered rom that o other households. Some sparsely populated areas, orexample, may have low absolute numbers o high-income households (relative to other counties), andyet have high concentrations o such households.Inspection o Figure 3 suggests that high-concentrationcounties are especially prevalent in the coastal areasas well. The Pacic, Middle Atlantic, and NewEngland divisions had high proportions o coun-ties with high concentrations o high-incomehouseholds. In contrast, the East South Centraldivision’s counties tended to have unusually lowconcentrations o high-income households.Table 1 presents proportions o households that werein the top 5 percent o the national distribution oreach o the 50 most populous metropolitan statisticalareas (MSAs). This table suggests that high-populationareas oten had high-income households not only inlarge numbers, but also in high concentrations. These50 most populous metropolitan areas contained 51.9percent o all U.S. households, and 71.9 percent o thetop 5 percent o households. Within MSAs, the centralcities had lower concentrations than the suburbs, as4.9 percent o households in the central city wereamong the top 5 percent, compared to 6.1 percento those within MSAs but outside central cities.
Among households residing outside MSAs, 1.9 percent were inthe top 5 percent.