Washington area richest, most educated in US: report

Thursday, June 8, 2006; 4:05 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Washington area has the wealthiest households and most educated work force of any metropolitan area in the United States, according to a report released on Thursday by a local business group.

The greater Washington area, including the District of Columbia, and neighboring areas of Maryland and Virginia, had the highest U.S. median household income, at nearly $72,800, ahead of the San Francisco area at $71,201 and Boston at $63,958, according to the report from the Greater Washington Initiative, which cites data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, market data firm Claritas Inc and other sources.

The report also found the Washington area, which has seen a major increase in defense-related technology employment in recent years, to have the largest science and engineering work force of any U.S. metropolitan area, at 324,530, ahead of the combined San Francisco and San Jose, California, work force of 214,500 and Chicago at 203,090.

The report said 42.5 percent of Washington-area residents have a bachelor's degree and 19 percent have a graduate degree, greater than San Francisco's bachelor's degree rate of 37.3 percent and graduate degree rate of 14.1 percent. Washington also claims the highest percentage of PhDs, at 2.5 percent of the population.

Housing costs in greater Washington were ranked 4th, with a 2005 median price of $424,700. San Francisco was highest at $715,700, followed by Los Angeles at $529,000 and New York at


But measuring total living costs among cities internationally, the report ranked Washington 78th, based on the W.M. Mercer Cost of Living Index for 2005. The most expensive city was Tokyo, while London was third and Paris 12th.

Greater Washington had the largest employment growth from 2000 to 2005 at 270,800 jobs, ahead of the Miami area at 208,400 and Atlanta at 47,900. However, Miami ranked tops in 2005 employment growth, at 90,300 versus 71,600 for Washington, 69,100 for Atlanta and 66,400 for Dallas.

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