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Sweet, sweet government pay - Washington DC richer than San Jose

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 20th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Times have really changed since the 1990s, and new Census Bureau figures confirm it. One of the biggest changes: Washington DC has now edged out San Jose as the wealthiest US metropolitan area.

WASHINGTON DC (Catholic Online) - Highly-paid federal employees and a great concentration of lawyers and lobbyists, has helped the capital take the number one spot from Silicon Valley.

Perhaps more notably, the figures demonstrate that politicians, government employees, lobbyists, and lawyers, are doing far better financially than Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and developers.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the national median income for 2010 was $50,046. The median income for the Washington metro area was $84,523--a whopping difference of $34,000.

Kevin Zeese, director of Prosperity Agenda which is a Baltimore-based advocacy group that is working to narrow the divide between the rich and the poor said, "there's a gap that's isolating Washington from the reality of the rest of the country. They just get more and more out of touch."

For federal workers, when health care and other benefits for are included in the data, a $4,000 increase can be observed. In 2009 total compensation for federal workers averaged $122,697. This year, that compensation climbed to $126,369.

Part of the reason the figures are so high is the great density of federal employees in the District of Columbia. According to census data, there are over 170,000 federal employees in the District of Columbia as of June 2011.

A new influx of lobbyists and other political activists also has the figures up. Analysts cite that lobbyists and lawyers are among the fastest growing segments of the Washington DC population. Experts cite controversial policies signed into law by President Obama such as health care reform, and financial regulations as a large part of the reason for the influx.

While Main Street continues to suffer in the Great Recession, Washington seems to be doing much better. The influx of lobbying firms and lawyers, and the money they attract has led to a micro-boom in the area economy. Sarah Klein, a Washington analyst at Moody analytics Inc. in Pennsylvania said, "the region did experience a shorter, shallower recession than San Jose. The federal government stepped in to take efforts to dampen the recession. It was focused to some extent in the DC area as well, given the presence of federal workers there and contractors. That insulated it from more of a downturn."

It is nice to see that the nation's capital is no longer suffering the full brunt of the great recession. However, the rest of the country is still waiting for the wealth in Washington DC to trickle down to Main Street USA.

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