Mar 4, 2024 - News

Where the rich got richer in the Seattle area

Illustration of coins flowing out of a champagne bottle.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Four Seattle-area cities are among the top in the nation where the rich got richer in the last few years, according to an analysis of census data released last week.

Why it matters: While Americans as a whole prospered during the pandemic, stock market booms primarily boosted the wealth of households at the top of the ladder, wrote Axios Markets' Matt Phillips.

By the numbers: Among 100 American cities with the highest mean household incomes, Bainbridge Island and Issaquah saw the largest percent increase between 2019 and 2022, per an analysis of 2022 American Community Survey data by personal finance website GoBankingRates.

  • Bainbridge Island, with a mean household income of about $215,000 in 2022, saw the nation's largest percent increase in mean household income, 48%, over three years, per the report.
  • Issaquah, with a mean 2022 household income of $196,000, saw a 43% increase in mean household income over the same three-year period.
  • Mercer Island, with a mean household income of $291,000 in 2022, showed a 29% increase, while Sammamish increased 24% to $262,000, per the report.

Stunning stat: While Los Altos, California, had the highest mean household income in 2022 at $401,000, Bainbridge saw the largest percentage change among cities surveyed, with an increase of 57% in the number of households earning above $200,000, per the report.

On the East Coast, Massachusetts led in rising wealth with five cities ranked in the top 25, but in the South, Texas was the only state to land a city in the top 25.

What they're saying: Andrew Murray, lead content data researcher at GoBankingRates, told Axios that among the reasons for the increase is the fact that the cost of living is higher on the West Coast on average, and continues to increase, which means wages need to be higher.

  • Additionally, the industries in those cities tend to be wealthier industries that pay more to attract the best workforce, Murray said.

Plus: The wealthy grew richer during the pandemic when central banks slashed interest rates, making it easier to lend and spend — and make money on the stock market, Axios Jennifer A. Kingson wrote.


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