"We're number one," the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority boasted in a news release this month. It cited figures from the Census Bureau's 2004 American Community Survey as showing that the county's household income and family income are higher than those of any other jurisdiction surveyed.


"It could be true," said Stephen Buckner, a spokesman for the Census Bureau. "It also could not be true."

At first glance on the Census Bureau Web site, Fairfax County's median household income, $88,133, looks larger than the $84,892 of the second-ranked county, Somerset, N.J. But the Census Bureau site also offers a chart that shows that Fairfax County's income number may not be any higher than Somerset's -- or of the next three ranked counties, Morris County, N.J.; Montgomery County; and Howard County.

Because of the margin of error in the survey, Fairfax County's median household income could be as low as $83,975 or as high as $92,291. That range overlaps with those of the next four counties . The survey covers areas with populations of at least 250,000.

So it's correct to say, according to Buckner, that Fairfax County has among the nation's highest median household incomes, as do some other local counties.

When asked for comment, Gerald L. Gordon, president and chief executive of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, said in a statement, "What is really important is that compared to our competitive markets our income is relatively high. All we are doing is reporting the census information."

-- D'Vera Cohn