While high unemployment persists and the U.S. economy remains stubbornly flat, Washington, D.C. now hails as the nation’s wealthiest metropolitan area, according to new data from the Census Bureau. Dethroning Silicon Valley from its royal chair, the hometown of Congress and the White House is flourishing, as the median household income for Washington residents stood at $84,523 in 2010, when the nation’s average household income was $50,046. The data shows that San Jose, home of Apple and Cisco Systems, held an average income of $83,944 in 2010, falling from $84,483 in 2009, and now riding on the coattails of America’s political stronghold.
Federal worker compensation last year averaged $126,369 (including healthcare and other benefits), a more than $3,500 increase from 2009, and as of June, the D.C. area had 170,467 federal employees. According to a Bloomberg analysis, the nearly $35,000 disparity in income largely attributes to a high concentration of lawyers and federal workers whose earnings far exceed $100,000 a year.
The data illustrates how the political elite continues to thrive — while overall poverty in the area remains high — as the U.S. economy remains stagnant and unemployment maintains its 9 percent mark. "There’s a gap that’s isolating Washington from the reality of the rest of the country," asserted Kevin Zeese, director of Prosperity Agenda, an advocacy group in Baltimore. "They just get more and more out of touch."
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