Metropolitan Statistical Areas with Earning Power

Metropolitan Statistical Areas with Earning Power

Some of America's wealthiest areas can be found in its biggest cities, such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia—major business hubs with affluent areas both downtown and in surrounding suburbs. Yet in terms of per capita income (total personal income divided by total population), the country's most affluent metro areas are not its most populous.

Based on metro-level data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Census Bureau, the metros with the highest per capita income are Bridgeport, Conn.; San Francisco; and Naples, Fla. The business volume in large metro areas attracts many high-net-worth individuals, but "big cities are not always the richest. Many large metros have very diverse populations, both rich and poor," says William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer. The New York metro area, for example, has the most millionaires in the U.S., according to consulting firm Capgemini, yet Census data show it also has a 12.8 percent poverty rate. As a result, the New York metro ranks ninth in the country in terms of per capita income, trailing behind cities such as Boston and Trenton, N.J.

The wealth gap is smaller in some more suburban metros in states such as Wyoming and Alaska, according to U.S. Census data. Frey adds that state capitals, college towns, and military towns often have higher incomes due to their ability to survive economic downturns, as their main industries are buffered by government-related funds.

Click here to see where per capita personal income is highest in each state.

Data compiled by Bloomberg Rankings.