The United States is currently the 6th richest country in the world, according to data released by the International Monetary Fund. However, it is also renowned for its huge economic inequalities that are a regular topic of debate, with wealth concentrated in certain elite and exclusive districts. Are the richest counties concentrated, or are they equally spread out across the continent?
The United States is made up of 3, 144 counties and county-equivalents. The most affluent of these follow no general rule - some suburban, others urban, and many nature havens. However, most are located near - although not too near - big cities, allowing for commuters to get the best of both worlds: work in the city, and come home to a quieter neighbouring county. Therefore, a county's connectedness to bigger urban centres is a key factor in its economic landscape.
The following list has been drawn up according to 2012 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It ranks the top ten wealthiest American counties with populations of 65, 000 or more. Each county's wealth is determined according to the average household income in the area. Some interesting trends emerge through this data; though Virginia ranks only seventh wealthiest of the fifty US states, many of the country's richest counties are concentrated within its boundaries. New Jersey is the 3rd richest US state, and comes a close second in term of its concentration of wealthy counties.
10 Morris County, New Jersey - $95, 294
9 Douglas County, Colorado - $95, 324
8 Somerset County, New Jersey - $95, 825
7 Putnam County, New York - $96, 223
6 Stafford County, Virginia - $97, 606
5 Arlington County, Virginia - $100, 474
4 Hunterdon County, New Jersey - $105, 186
3 Fairfax County, Virginia - $107, 096
2 Howard County, Maryland - $108, 844
1 Loudoun County, Virginia - $117, 876
Loudoun County is the third most populated county in Virginia, and also its richest. Traditionally a rural wheat-producing county, Loudoun's population has soared since the 1980s: today its population has reached 312, 311. Currently, it has a population density of approximately 606 people per square mile. This is explained by the development of a fully-fledged service economy in the area since the 1990s, and the suburbanisation of the county. Loudoun has attracted the headquarters for numerous tech companies, and benefits economically from the Washington Dulles International Airport which lies within its borders. The rural economy is still strong in the western part of the county which has flourishing equine and wine industries.
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