With a $23.3 trillion economy – accounting for nearly a quarter of global economic output in 2021 – the United States is the wealthiest country in the world by a wide margin. But despite its economic strength, the U.S. is also home to some of the world’s highest levels of income inequality. According to the World Bank, the wealth gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. is more pronounced than in China, Russia, or any highly developed European country with available data.
The latest available figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that more than 41 million Americans live below the poverty line, which for a single household, for example, means (in most of the country) living on an annual income of $14,580 or less. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, nearly 12.5 million American households earn more than $200,000 a year, and over 23% of all income in the U.S. is controlled by the top 5% of households by earnings.
Not only concentrated in the hands of a relative few, wealth is also geographically concentrated in the United States. Across the country, there are communities defined, at least in part, by their affluence – wealthy enclaves where incomes far exceed that of the average American household.
Of all places in California with populations between 1,000 and 25,000, Atherton ranks as the wealthiest. The average household income in the town stands at $539,944, about $420,800 more than the statewide average.
All data in this story are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey. For the purposes of this story, all places covered by the census with populations between 1,000 and 25,000 were considered towns.
Richest town by stateAvg. household income in town ($)Avg. household income in state ($)Median home value in town ($)Median home value in state ($)Alabama: Mountain Brook249,81876,150697,800157,100Alaska: Steele Creek151,203103,258274,900282,800Arizona: Paradise Valley359,52289,6931,778,000265,600Arkansas: Goshen192,35973,346447,300142,100California: Atherton539,944119,1492,000,000+573,200Colorado: Cherry Hills Village464,068107,4462,000,000+397,500Connecticut: Tokeneke611,239120,6702,000,000+286,700Delaware: Rehoboth Beach255,75597,0811,186,900269,700Florida: Palm Beach332,76488,2671,523,100248,700Georgia: Druid Hills209,78591,082698,000206,700Hawaii: Kaanapali223,037113,3101,317,100662,100Idaho: Hidden Spring180,78383,777523,400266,500Illinois: Winnetka417,007100,7191,123,700212,600Indiana: Meridian Hills278,87881,703554,900158,500Iowa: Kent Estates172,59084,948314,700160,700Kansas: Mission Hills444,34687,033963,400164,800Kentucky: Anchorage305,11876,511707,100155,100Louisiana: Des Allemands139,76177,025122,800174,000Maine: Falmouth Foreside204,66983,914581,300212,100Maryland: Chevy Chase Village489,515120,2341,938,800338,500Massachusetts: Dover432,571123,1741,020,700424,700Michigan: Orchard Lake Village355,00885,727727,100172,100Minnesota: Orono306,372102,691766,700250,200Mississippi: Pleasant Hill187,02968,636269,500133,000Missouri: Ladue384,81583,152844,700171,800Montana: Helena Valley Northeast142,82582,237373,500263,700Nebraska: Hickman119,08187,815224,500174,100Nevada: Incline Village198,21489,5621,042,700315,900New Hampshire: Hanover184,742108,061610,900288,700New Jersey: Short Hills428,352124,6261,389,900355,700New Mexico: Las Campanas246,73774,3631,075,900184,800New York: Brookville617,173111,5832,000,000+340,600North Carolina: Biltmore Forest317,80284,8881,074,500197,500North Dakota: Horace188,25589,443378,700209,900Ohio: Coldstream371,20983,820623,000159,900Oklahoma: Nichols Hills337,25778,040740,200150,800Oregon: Dunthorpe428,60194,0341,347,400362,200Pennsylvania: Messiah College390,36392,849N/A197,300Rhode Island: Charlestown134,74097,908425,700292,600South Carolina: Kiawah Island366,39281,1421,442,000181,800South Dakota: Dakota Dunes166,30483,175376,900187,800Tennessee: Belle Meade434,84882,0121,662,100193,700Texas: Hunters Creek Village477,85294,1151,846,200202,600Utah: East Basin281,879101,412839,500339,700Vermont: Woodstock127,82289,820480,400240,600Virginia: Great Falls353,259111,0131,134,900295,500Washington: Yarrow Point410,703111,4312,000,000+397,600West Virginia: Shenandoah Junction169,13569,436162,400128,800Wisconsin: River Hills283,36987,733637,900200,400Wyoming: Hoback195,16187,786930,700237,900