The Washington metropolitan area had the highest per capita income of all the nation's urban areas in 1977, according to a survery by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce.

But the D.C. area slipped a couple of notches from the previous year in the overall ranking of 268 metropolitan areas, surveyed.

Washington was fifth with a per capita income of $9,306, 32 percent above the national average of $7,494. The figure represents an increase of 9.12 percent over the $8,521 for 1976 when the area ranked third.

Onece again, Anchorage, Alaska, had the highest per capita income in the nation with $11,430 followed by Bridgeport - Stamford - Norwalk - Danbury, Conn. ($9,676), Reno. Nev. ($9,368) and the area's higher cost of living, according to a Commerce Department spokesman.

The percentage increase in per capita income from 1976 to 1977 was greater than the 5.7 percent rise in the cost of living in all but three metropolitan areas. The Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn. area registered the largest increase - 23 percent - and Greeley, Colo. had the lowest - 1.1 percent.

According to Pull Levit, a regional economist with the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Washington area has traditionally fared better than the national average in per capita income due to a stable employment base.

But Levit added that "the higher income areas tend to have a higher cost of living. In a way it's offset."

Although the fact that private employment has surpassed federal employment in the Washington area may have an effect on personal income levels, Commerce Department statistics show they continued to grow at a steady pace in 1977 and 1978. A preliminary report for 1978 puts the D.C. area per capita income figure at $10,022.

A breakdown of the metropolitan area indicates that a lot of money is going into Maryland and Virginia. Per capita income for D.C was below the average for the area at $8,984.

All the neighboring counties showed healthy gains in per capita income. Topping the list again was Arlington County with $13,036, up from 1976's $11,903. Next, in order, were: Montgomery County, with $11,055, Fairfax County, with$9,489. Loudoun County, with $8,177, Prince George's Counry, eith $7,749, Charles County, with $6,190.

Among independent cities, Falls Church led all, with $16,339 followed by Alexandria, with $11,389, Fairfax City, with $10,450, Manassas with $7,955 and Manassas Park, with $5,489.

Other large metropolitan areas and their rankings included: Chicago-11th,$8,522; Los Angeles-Long Beach-13th, $8,429; New York City-19th, $8,105 and Dallas-Fort Worth-45,$7,704.