- Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.
- The U.S. capital has swapped top spots with Silicon Valley, according to recent Census Bureau figures, with the typical household in the Washington metro area earning $84,523 last year. The national median income for 2010 was $50,046.
- Total compensation for federal workers, including health care and other benefits, last year averaged $126,369, compared with $122,697 in 2009, according to Bloomberg News calculations of Commerce Department data. There were 170,467 federal employees in the District of Columbia as of June. The Washington area includes the District of Columbia, parts of Northern Virginia, eastern Maryland and eastern West Virginia.
- In recent years Washington has attracted more lobbyists and firms with an interest in the health-care overhaul and financial regulations signed into law by President Barack Obama, according to local business leaders. “Wall Street has moved to K Street,” said Barbara Lang, president and chief executive officer of the DC Chamber of Commerce, referring to the Washington street that’s home to prominent lobbying firms. “Those two industries clearly have grown in our city.”
- In the San Jose area, home to Cupertino-based Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) in San Jose, income dropped to $83,944 from $84,483 in 2009.
- Median income in both metro areas has been falling since 2008, when it reached a record in each place. The 4.7 percent drop in Silicon Valley during that period was three times larger than the Washington region’s 1.5 percent fall.
- The flow of federal dollars in and around the nation’s capital helped the region weather the economic slump better than most areas and is contributing to its recovery. The unemployment rate in the Washington metro area in August was 6.1 percent, compared with 10 percent in San Jose.
- “The region did experience a shorter, shallower recession than San Jose,” said Sara Kline, a Washington analyst at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “The federal government stepped in to take efforts to dampen the recession. It was focused to some extent in the D.C. area as well, given the presence of federal workers there and contractors. That insulated it from more of a downturn.”
- Last year Washington also had the most lawyers per capita in the U.S. compared with the 50 states, with one for every 12 city residents, according to figures from the American Bar Association and the Census Bureau. In New York State the figure was one out of every 123 residents, while in California the ratio was one in 243.
- Associate attorneys in the Washington area who have worked between one and eight years had a median salary of $186,250, compared with the national median for their peers of $123,521, according to a survey by the Washington-based National Association for Law Placement.
- Lobbyists play a prominent role in the Washington economy. In 2010 there were 12,964 registered lobbyists, with most working in or around the nation’s capital, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington- based research group that tracks political spending. Spending on lobbying efforts reached a record $3.51 billion last year, up from $3.49 billion in 2009.
- The Washington suburbs are also home to government contractors such as Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), the world’s largest defense company, and General Dynamics Corp. (GD), the Falls Church, Virginia-based maker of Abrams tanks and Gulfstream business jets.
[Apr 25, 2011: The Washington D.C. Bubble - K Street Edition]
[USA Today Nov 10th - More Federal Workers' Pay Tops $150,000]
[Feb 3, 2011: Washington D.C. Leads Nation's Major Cities in Job Growth in 2010]