Where the top of the 1 percent lives (hint: not mostly NYC)

“Based on Where the Top 1 Percent Lives, the Occupy Crowd Should Be Protesting Against Big Government.”

So says Cato’s Dan Mitchell, who takes an MSN Money report on the 15 U.S. counties (the highest one-half of 1 percent) with the highest per capita income and creates this map:

rich-bureaucrats-and-lobbyists from Dan Mitchell

Map of wealthy counties near D.C. (source: International Liberty blog by Dan Mitchell)

The stars, as you may have guessed, represent counties in the top 15. You’ll notice there are 10 such stars — meaning two-thirds of America’s very richest counties are suburbs of the nation’s capital. That includes the three highest-earning counties and four of the top five. By comparison, suburbs of New York City account for only four of the top 15. (The 15th is just south of Denver.)

Here’s a sampling of what the MSN report had to say about some of these counties:

15. Charles County, Md.: “The first of five Maryland counties to make our list, Charles’ population grew 21.6 percent in the first decade of the 21st century.” (From Kyle: Hmm…21.6 percent growth during a decade when federal spending almost doubled.)

No. 14 St. Mary’s County, Md.: “The median household income in St. Mary’s skyrocketed from about $72,000 in 2009 to more than $88,000 in 2010, the biggest percentage increase (roughly 22 percent) on our richest-counties list.” (From Kyle: Federal spending increased by 16 percent between fiscal 2008, which included the beginning of calendar 2009, and fiscal 2010, which included the end of calendar 2010.)

No.2 Fairfax County, Va.: “Langley (headquarters of the CIA) is within the county, so government employees must be making a decent amount of money these days. Also, the unemployment rate in the county has been astoundingly low historically, hitting 1.4% in 1999, when the national rate was 4.3%.” (From Kyle: Nuff said.)

While there has been a spate of reports about the relatively higher pay among federal employees compared to their private-sector peers, that factor alone cannot account for this concentration of wealth. Clearly, the rent-seeking business is booming like never before.

Both factors owe directly to the growth in federal government. Which gets back to Mitchell’s original point.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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133 comments Add your comment

Partisay

February 22nd, 2012
11:20 am

Partisay

February 22nd, 2012
11:24 am

“Both factors owe directly to the growth in federal government.”

In what way? Make the link….

Kyle Wingfield

February 22nd, 2012
11:35 am

Partisay: More money going out the door = more people being paid well to get a piece of the action.

TDone

February 22nd, 2012
11:37 am

I live in Fairfax County, Virginia. It’s all true.

Jefferson

February 22nd, 2012
11:39 am

You should move, if you envey those folks.

Mr. Holmes

February 22nd, 2012
11:42 am

Not going to argue with the “more money going out the door” explanation–clearly that’s part of it–but influence-peddling no doubt also plays a role. And those are corporate/1% bucks.

commoncents

February 22nd, 2012
11:43 am

I hate corpora———- wait, what? The richest (on average) live by and work for the government??

ragnar danneskjold

February 22nd, 2012
11:44 am

Sounds like a problem that a republican house and senate ought to be able to correct.

JF McNamara

February 22nd, 2012
11:55 am

@ragnar danneskjold,

Sounds like a problem that a republican house and senate created. The numbers are for the entire decade which was largely Bush and Republican legislators.

JF McNamara

February 22nd, 2012
12:03 pm

@commoncents,

The richest do not work for the government. They may be the CEOs of contractors, but they do not work for the government. For instance, most military contractors are based in D.C. because that is how they make their money. Those CEOs live in the D.C. area creating the wealth concentration.

Any industry that primarily sells to the government is generally centered there. There are only a few other places where you could have this phenomena of concentration, Silicon Valley and New York.

Both of those places have large geographical counties, though, which skews the results.

Bart Abel

February 22nd, 2012
12:05 pm

These guys are relying on absolute numbers. What should be obvious (but apparently isn’t) is that as the population grows and as the national workforce grows, the federal government will grow. The federal workforce today as a proportion of the total U.S. workforce is about half what it was in 1970.

Also, statistics showing that federal workers make twice what the private sector worker makes is comparing apples and oranges, or better yet, CDC epidemiologists and Applebee’s bus boys. They don’t compare similar job types, educational levels, experience, or geographic location. In fact, a larger percentage of federal workers are college educated than in the private sector…a larger percentage of federal workers are older and have more experience in their positions…a larger share of high skill jobs make up the federal work force than in the private sector…a larger share of federal workers are in white collar positions…and so on.

In fact, if you compare government accountants’ compensations with private sector accountants’ compensation, same education and experience, the private private sector accountants win. Same with engineers and most other federal positions. (Remember how much private Blackwater employees were paid in Iraq compared to our military personnel?)

People should also know that the vast majority of government growth during the Obama administration has been in the areas of defense and homeland security.

This issue should be grounded by a responsible and accurate data. Instead we get ignorance wrapped in confusion wrapped in lies to score cheap political points.

Kyle Wingfield

February 22nd, 2012
12:07 pm

Bart: False. Some of the studies do compare similar education levels and job descriptions.

Kyle Wingfield

February 22nd, 2012
12:09 pm

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
12:20 pm

“Also, statistics showing that federal workers make twice what the private sector worker makes is comparing apples and oranges, or better yet, CDC epidemiologists and Applebee’s bus boys.”

Nice spin there, Bart. Union teachers in the midwest make 80 + a year. Trash collectors in Chicago make 60+.

“In fact, a larger percentage of federal workers are college educated than in the private sector”

Back it up, Bart. You have ZERO proof of that. In fact, just look at Chicago where there are city counsel personel who have GED’s and nothing else. Some of these folks make over 200 grand a year.

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
12:22 pm

Obama is a 1%er.

Bill and Hillary are 1%ers.

Most ALL politicians are 1%ers.

The folks at NBC, CNN, MSNBC etc are all 1%ers.

The lefts precious Al Gore has been a 1%er since birth.

Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schmuck are all 1%ers.

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
12:22 pm

“People should also know that the vast majority of government growth during the Obama administration has been in the areas of defense and homeland security.”

EFFING LIE!!!!!!!!!!! Dude, you are PATHETIC.

@@

February 22nd, 2012
12:24 pm

Bart: False. Some of the studies do compare similar education levels and job descriptions.

Lawd ah mercy! Looking at the CBO publication, government cream rises to the top…the privates are left with curd (government cheese).

Geo

February 22nd, 2012
12:27 pm

Those are just anomalies. Just ask Jefferson, getalife, those fellas…

Puck

February 22nd, 2012
12:27 pm

and this is news? The counties surrounding the District have been among the tops in income since I was a kid there during the 60’s.

Jefferson

February 22nd, 2012
12:30 pm

Why is the GOP lagging in the polls ? Are they gonna blow it again ?

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
12:31 pm

“Are they gonna blow it again ?”

Guess you missed 2010.

Geo

February 22nd, 2012
12:33 pm

I imagine the GO will quit chasing it’s tail after the nominee is picked [I do hope].

Geo

February 22nd, 2012
12:33 pm

Oppps – GOP

Hillbilly D

February 22nd, 2012
12:35 pm

While there has been a spate of reports about the relatively higher pay among federal employees compared to their private-sector peers, that factor alone cannot account for this concentration of wealth.

Don’t forget that the lawyers, lobbyist, Beltway journalists and think tankers are highly paid, too.

Jefferson

February 22nd, 2012
12:37 pm

Fast answer, no substance.

Bart Abel

February 22nd, 2012
12:37 pm

Thank you, Kyle. In my defense, that CBO information report is just 3 weeks old, and I had not seen it. I’ll go back and look at my previous sources to and to see where they got their data.

That said, here’s is CBO’s conclusion: “Overall, the federal government paid 16 percent more in total compensation than it would have if average compensation had been comparable with that in the private sector, after accounting for certain observable characteristics of workers.” 16 percent…not double. I’ll accept that, if I can’t find any reliable data to contradict that.

If you have any information countering the fact that the federal workforce is smaller relative to the private workforce (meaning that, comparatively, the federal workforce has shrunk over the last several decades) or that most of the growth in the federal workforce has been in homeland security and defense, then I’d be interested to see that as well.

Bart Abel

February 22nd, 2012
12:40 pm

Union teachers in the midwest make 80 + a year. Trash collectors in Chicago make 60+.

Focus, DW, focus. This is a discussion about federal workers.

Finn McCool

February 22nd, 2012
12:50 pm

Both factors owe directly to the growth in federal government.

I call BS. It’s a direct result of the amount of money pouring into lobbyists and other vote-getting functions around Washington.

Our reps are bought and sold on a daily basis.

Finn McCool

February 22nd, 2012
12:53 pm

How about looking at the average salary of this area over the last 30 years in relation to the rest of the nation? Has it changed drastically in a way that goes against the norm?

Maybe that’s is too much work for Kyle.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 22nd, 2012
12:54 pm

Government IS the problem.

Get off your knees and leave the temple of government, Democrats, you are worshiping that which will destroy you. Get a real, productive job and forsake your handouts.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 22nd, 2012
12:57 pm

It’s a direct result of the amount of money pouring into lobbyists
———

We wouldn’t have lobbyists were it not for the hundreds of billions sloshing around in DC. Government is the problem, not free people petitioning their government.

Kyle Wingfield

February 22nd, 2012
1:01 pm

Bart @ 12:37: “16 percent…not double. I’ll accept that, if I can’t find any reliable data to contradict that.”

How kind of you, considering you’re the one who brought up “double” or “twice” as a comparison for public vs. private. Way to frame the argument.

Bart Abel

February 22nd, 2012
1:01 pm

Since DW brought up state and local workers, I’ll throw this in for consideration:

“Recent reports in the national and the regional media have described state and local government employees as earning more than workers in the private sector. The average state and local government worker does earn higher wages – but this is because they are, on average, older and substantially better educated than private-sector workers. When state and local government employees are compared to private-sector workers with similar characteristics – particularly when workers are matched by age and education – state and local workers actually earn less, on average, than their private-sector counterparts. On this basis, the wage penalty for state and local government workers in New England is close to 3 percent.”

http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_201-250/WP233.pdf

@@

February 22nd, 2012
1:08 pm

Ann Romney says her husband was reluctant to run
Republican presidential hopeful’s wife encouraged Romney to ‘knock heads’ in Washington

“It wouldn’t be worth it at all if we just went in there, and we just shuffle the chairs around,” Ann recalled advising her husband of his plan to pursue the presidency. “I’m not in for that. I’m in for, you’re going to go in there, and you’re going to knock heads.”

The tough talk won polite applause at the luncheon.

Later, Ann Romney returned to softer themes common to her stump speeches, including her husband’s sensitivity and care when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998.

The message seemed to fill a picture of Romney that some said had been missing.

Which picture? The one where he’s knockin’ heads or being Mr. Sensitive?

@@

February 22nd, 2012
1:08 pm

Enter your comments here

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
1:09 pm

“Focus, DW, focus. This is a discussion about federal workers.”

Actually it’s a discussion about guvmint workers in general.

@@

February 22nd, 2012
1:11 pm

Oops and lawdy but I got a quick trigger finger. At any rate, just wanted to find out whether people know what ’santorum’ means. For our less educated but still lovable right wingers, it means: the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex. I think that fits Rick quite nicely, actually.

Schnirt

Bart Abel

February 22nd, 2012
1:12 pm

“Federal workers earning double their private counterparts” http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/income/2010-08-10-1Afedpay10_ST_N.htm

As you know, Kyle, I didn’t frame the argument. USA Today reported it, and talk radio and Fox News have been endlessly repeating this debunked report. You built on the foundation created by this myth, by posting about “the growth in federal government.”

The CBO says that federal workers are compensated 16 percent higher than comparable private sector workers (an important statistic…thanks for the info)…private sector workers, by the way, whose wages haven’t been keeping up with inflation or economic productivity. You also failed to take into account the relative growth compared to the total workforce and where such growth has taken place (defense and homeland security).

So, I say to you, “way to frame the argument.”

@@

February 22nd, 2012
1:14 pm

Kyle:

I sure hope that 1:11 is apparent.

Sarah Coulter

February 22nd, 2012
1:21 pm

Government IS the problem.
Get off your knees and leave the temple of government, Republicans, you are worshiping that which will destroy you. Get a real, productive job and forsake your handouts.

Fixed it for you. :^)

Jefferson

February 22nd, 2012
1:24 pm

Gov’t can be made better, its not going away.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 22nd, 2012
1:30 pm

That’s nice, Sarah, but makes zero sense.

@@

February 22nd, 2012
1:30 pm

Actually, JACK, I’m more in favor of the heathen, Newt. Goin’ against the grain, I am.

There’s just something about his ability to wage political warfare.

Now go on back to jay’s and spread “your love”.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 22nd, 2012
1:32 pm

Wages aren’t supposed to keep up with inflation or productivity; that kind of thinking springs from an entitlement mentality. Wages are supposed to keep up with dand for the labor they purchase.

Think, dammit!

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 22nd, 2012
1:33 pm

“dand” = “demand”

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
1:36 pm

Sarah Coulter

Forget your meds?

Bart Abel

February 22nd, 2012
1:36 pm

The middle class has been getting the shaft over the course of the past few decades, including federal workers. The idea that we should be mad that federal workers, compensated 16 percent more than private sector workers, because they didn’t get the shaft as much as the rest of us did strikes me as odd. Especially as the incomes of a very small group at the very top has grown by leaps and bounds, leaving everybody else behind.

The thinking seems to be that if they can distract voters by getting them mad at federal workers, then we won’t notice that the uber-rich are getting a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. There’s a joke that goes something like: “A millionaire and two middle class workers are sitting at table with ten cookies in the cookie jar. The millionaire grabs nine cookies for himself, and then looks at one of the middle-class guys and says, watch out…that other guy wants your cookie.”

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
1:37 pm

“the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex. I think that fits Rick quite nicely, actually.

Looks like someone is impersonating @@ again.

Do what??????

February 22nd, 2012
1:38 pm

“The middle class has been getting the shaft ”

How so? Fact is, if people used common sense they’d be fine financially.

UGA 1999

February 22nd, 2012
1:46 pm

Kyle, CONGRATULATIONS on the birth of your child. It is truly a blessing.